10 Jun 2019

Murupara: The town without any cash

8:30 pm on 10 June 2019

Residents of a small Bay of Plenty are fighting to keep cash flowing in and out of their only bank.

No caption

Photo: Creative Commons / Pixabay / 3dman_eu

The New Zealand Credit Union in Murupara hasn't handled cash since the town's single ATM was ripped from its wall by thieves last week.

Now residents are concerned it'll never handle cash again.

Forty years ago, the forestry town of Murupara was thriving. But its economy collapsed when the large forestry companies began contracting jobs out.

Bub Warren, who works at the town's pharmacy, said Murupara used to be a beautiful place, but now it's riddled with crime and the town's shops are often the target.

"Well the town used to be a beautiful town but when they went contracting, this town really fell apart.

"There's not a lot of shops here, we have quite a few burglaries in the shops that are open."

Last Monday, thieves used a log loader to rip the town's only ATM out of the wall of the Credit Union building.

The machine was found intact later that day, 8km away, and the police believe it fell from the trailer carrying it.

Marina Teddy, who owns one of the town's only takeaway shops, said the town has been without a fully functioning bank and cash flow since.

"It's a big loss to our community, especially for our old people, some of them can't even travel to Rotorua even though we have buses running from here, and businesses, bushmen, everybody ... we're going to suffer, big time."

Ms Teddy uses Credit Union to bank her business profits, so she's forced to drive to the next closest bank - 45 minutes away in Rotorua.

But not everyone is able to travel that far, so they ask for cash withdrawals at their local shops.

"Sometimes we've got it, sometimes haven't because everybody is paying by EFTPOS, so we can't actually help them out sometimes and we have to turn them away, which is sad."

Bub Warren said they've had people coming to the pharmacy for cash since the robbery, too.

"We only hold $200 and that's our float and we can't give them any at all."

The community will meet tonight with Credit Union representatives to discuss the issues.

Ms Teddy said Murupara would to fight to keep cash in the town.

"Fight to keep our bank open for one. There's people there that are going to lose their jobs if the bank closes down, then that's another business gone from Murupara."

Murupara Community Board Member Mem Jenner said residents need to decide what the future of banking in Murupara looks like.

"We really want the community to come up with some cool suggestions, cool ideas about how we can help ourselves."

In a statement, New Zealand Credit Union said following the recent robbery and a previous attack on a different ATM at the same branch, the decision to stop handling cash was made for staff safety.

It said it understood the demand for an ATM and banking services and it wanted to hear from the community on how they or others could assist in protecting retailers.

New Zealand Credit Union said it couldn't confirm if cash would be handled at the branch in future.