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Regional

Iwi trust buys Ōpunakē bank building

A new chapter has begun for Ōpunakē's former TSB bank building, which has been purchased by Te Kāhui o Taranaki Trust.

Part of the settlement includes an agreement to retain the ATM service in the building.

The trust, which is the post-settlement governance entity established to manage the Treaty settlement assets of Taranaki iwi, took ownership on Thursday.

Chairperson Jacqui King said the purchase was a strategic move in advancing iwi aspirations and “reclaiming our presence on our own whenua”.

“Ōpunakē is especially important due to it being one of the larger urban footprints within our iwi boundaries.

“The opportunity to be visibly present and accessible to our whānau, within our own rohe, was at the heart of this decision.”

King said retaining access to the ATM at the building was a key consideration, and collaboration with the TSB had ensured the facility could remain.

The purchase was one of many steps they were taking “as active and positive contributors to the socio-economic wellbeing of our whānau and the wider Taranaki coastal community”.

The sale follows widespread community anger when the town’s last physical bank closed in September.

There was a last-ditch bid in February to get the South Taranaki District Council to buy the property, just before sale tender closed, which failed.

TSB chief executive Kerry Boielle said the bank had promised to retain the ATM service and was thankful the trust was enabling this to happen.

“We understand this has been a big change for the community and are pleased to see the property remain as a place for community good,” she said.