Westpac NZ has increased its financial support to customers and communities affected by Cyclone Gabrielle and earlier flooding to more than $4 million.
Westpac NZ chief executive Catherine McGrath says the scale of the destruction in the Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne and other regions is difficult to comprehend.
“Every day we’re hearing stories of unimaginable loss and seeing images of communities that have been devastated.
“We initially gave $1 million in $2,500 cash grants to small business customers affected by the late January flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle and we’re now increasing the amount available to $3 million.
“There is clearly a need for further support and we are also widening eligibility for the cash grants to include farmers and growers, who have been hit particularly hard.”
Ms McGrath says Westpac NZ is also donating $1 million to a range of organisations assisting with immediate flood relief and recovery in the worst hit areas. This includes local iwi and community groups, mayoral relief funds and rural support organisations.
“These communities are already moving ahead with their recovery, and we want to be there together alongside them to help accelerate that process.”
In addition, Ms McGrath says Westpac NZ is offering eligible personal, business and agribusiness customers temporary overdrafts that are interest-free for up to 90 days.
“These overdrafts come with no establishment fees and will provide customers with funds to get through the weeks to come as they manage things like insurance claims.”
Westpac NZ will also be offering discounted lending to customers badly impacted by the floods and cyclone on a case-by-case basis.
“We know the support needed by many customers will only become apparent in the weeks to come, and may change over time,” says Ms McGrath.
“We have a range of options, including discounted lending, to help alleviate the pressure for customers who have been materially impacted.”
Ms McGrath said most Westpac branches and ATMs were now open and operating.
“I’d like to thank the residents of Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne for their patience while our team has worked hard to restore access to branches and ATMs.
“We know cash has been more important than ever due to the power and communication outages that affected card payments, so the restoration of ATM services has been one of our highest priorities.
“We’re continuing to focus on restoring our remaining services that are not yet back online.”
Eligibility criteria as well as terms and conditions apply to some of the assistance, and are available to view on the Westpac website.
In addition to the $1 million donation, Westpac also matches employee donations dollar-for-dollar as part of its usual business practice.
Westpac NZ Cyclone/Flooding Relief
Business and personal customers affected by the severe weather may be able to access the following support:
- $3 million in non-repayable grants to eligible small businesses and agribusiness customers, with applications extended until 24 March 2023.
- Temporary overdrafts for personal, business and agribusiness customers that are interest-free for 45 days with the option to extend for a further 45, with no establishment fee. Applications close on 31 March 2023 and are open to residents in specified regions.
- Discounted lending to badly affected customers on a case-by-case basis.
- Suspension of principal payments for up to three months on business loans.
- Deferred payment on business credit cards for up to three months.
- Access to term deposit funds for individuals suffering hardship.
- Suspension of home loan payments for up to three months for individuals ahead on their repayments and who have a sufficient undrawn balance.
- Hardship support for customers facing significant financial challenges.