ASB Bank OUT! KIWI Bank – IN?

Photo by Jana Mills

Photo by Jana Mills

Helensville’s modern history (the last 50 years) is characterised by the good news and the bad news, of which there has been no shortage of either. Grev Walker recalls some of those events leading up to the great banking dilemma.
During the 1980’s - We lost the Kaipara Dairy Factory costing at least 130 jobs and the trade-training base for most of our apprentices.
We lost our local Newspapers to the Corporate Raiders but quickly established the Helensville News and locked it into local ownership.
We lost our Health Services due to Health Ministry Policy reviews but quickly pioneered a groundbreaking package that started with the Birthing Unit and has grown to the multi-faceted Health Trust that we now cherish and appreciate.
The Izona and Bendon clothing labels were produced locally until 1987 when they departed from Helensville with the loss of 32 jobs.
1998 Our two banks, the ANZ and BNZ deserted the town and wider catchments within one week of each other. Having no bank was bad enough, but simultaneously we were negotiating with Woolworths (now Countdown) to set up their Supermarket and a pre-condition for that to proceed was the presence of a Bank. With so much at stake, so much to gain or lose, we had to have a bank, which prompted the hasty formation of the Bank Action Committee representing business and personal interests.
The ASB was then known as the ‘People’s Bank’, the ‘friendly bank’ with banking legends Ralph Norris and Hugh Burrett at the helm. They appeared to be the only major bank that wasn’t re-trenching and cutting branches adrift. We had several meetings with them that laid out the conditions for our partnership.
They required pledges of Savings Accounts, Term Deposits and Mortgaged loans and that the Bank Action Committee would continue to liase with them to ensure that the pledges were honoured. In return that would provide all personal and commercial services.
The pledges of about 30 million dollars exceeded the Bank’s expectations which gave them confidence to proceed with the first ASB Branch which opened at No. 58 Commercial Road (now The Healing Heart of Helensville) on March 17, 1998.
8 years later, in September 2006 they moved to expand premises at No. 40 Commercial Road, obviously buoyed by the continuing support and profit growth.
SO…….given the spirit of the 1998 negotiations, the loyalty of our Communities to the Bank for 17 years and the absence of any concerns being raised by the ASB, is it any wonder that our Communities feel betrayed by the ASB Bank??
Finally, July 17, 2015 marks the exit of the ASB from Helensville and I hope most locals will follow me along to No 64 Commercial Road where I will transfer my various accounts to Kiwibank in the hope that, one day, they might expand their services and enjoy the same loyalty from our Community.
Grev Walker
Member of the 1998 Bank Action Committee

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