Family’s long link to bank

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Three generations of BNZ customers reflect on the bank’s history to mark the opening of its new location on Thames St today.

BNZ opens its doors to customers at its new location at 80 Thames St today after work began in October to earthquake strengthen and redevelop the old Oamaru Mail building.

Oamaru residents, mother Yvonne Cox, daughter Margaret Park and granddaughter Kelly Firman have had an affiliation with the bank since 1939.

Mrs Park said her father started banking with BNZ in 1939 while in Dunedin before her mother, Mrs Cox, joined in 1944 when the couple opened an account to buy a house together.

They relocated to Oamaru in 1961 and Mrs Cox, who is in her 90s, still banks with BNZ.

“I don’t know anybody who has been with BNZ as long as I have,” she said.

Although Mrs Cox still has a cheque book she no longer has the need to go into the bank because Mrs Park does it all online for her.

Mrs Park, who also joined BNZ when she was trying to buy a house in 1973, said banking has changed since she first started more than 40 years ago.

“It used to be more personal…in those days you went to the bank.

“A lot of people don’t go to the bank nowadays.

“Now you can do it online.”

Mrs Park’s daughter Kelly Firman said she had been with the bank for about 15 years and it has even changed in that time with everything becoming more accessible and available online.

BNZ, the first bank in Oamaru, opened as an agency in Oamaru in 1862 and its first branch opened on Tyne St in 1866.

The bank stayed there until 1896 when it moved to the Colonial Bank premises on Thames St.

It has remained on Thames St since then, at several locations, with the last move being in 1967.

By RUBY HARFIELD

PHOTO: RUBY HARFIELD

THREE GENERATIONS: Three generations of Oamaru BNZ customers from left, Margaret Park, Yvonne Cox and  Kelly Firman.