Banks supporting communities hit by Cyclone Gabrielle

New Zealand’s banks are offering a range of support to customers and communities affected by Cyclone Gabrielle, including making $1.4 billion available in low-cost lending and donating $6.5 million to disaster relief funds.

“The impact of the Cyclone Gabrielle is devastating at every level. Banks are part of the communities that have been hit by the cyclone and they’re working hard to support affected customers and staff,” says New Zealand Banking Association chief executive Roger Beaumont.

“To date banks have made $1.4 billion available in low-cost lending for affected businesses and households to help them build back better and smarter. That helps support the medium to longer term recovery.

“Our banks have also donated $6.5 million to disaster relief funds. Many cyclone-affected communities need relief right now, and banks are joining other generous New Zealanders to support these communities. Some banks are also helping their customers make donations to relief funds.

“Immediate needs are also being met through cash payments to affected customers. Some banks are offering grants of up to $2500 to people in need, totalling over $4 million in payments so far.

“Banks are also providing support packages to the many farmers and fruit growers affected by cyclone damage.

“To help banks provide emergency lending to customers in need, we’ve worked closely with the government to support amendments to Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act regulations. The exemption to the affordability assessment usually required under the regulations means banks can more easily provide temporary overdrafts and home loan top ups for up to $10,000 to customers in affected areas.”

Depending on the bank and the circumstances involved, other assistance may include:

  • Interest-free temporary overdrafts
  • Reduced or interest-only loan repayments
  • Waived fees
  • Access to term deposits.

“Anyone who has been financially affected by the cyclone should contact their banks to discuss what assistance may be available to meet their particular needs,” says Beaumont.