The cash-strapped community of Murupara will meet with the last remaining bank in the town tonight in a hope it will reopen following a brazen theft of an ATM.
Murupara residents now have to travel out of town just to withdraw money from their banks - the nearest ATM is more than 60km away.
Early last Monday morning, a front end loader was used to steal an entire ATM from the Pine Drive NZCU building. The money machine was later discovered abandoned and intact in the Kaingaroa Forest.
NZCU Baywide general manager of sales, marketing and channels Andrew Quayle said the bank opened for non-cash transactions the Thursday following the robbery.
When asked why the bank stopped offering transactions involving cash, he said the safety of staff was paramount and no decision regarding the future provision of full services had been made.
Quayle confirmed NZCU Central representatives would attend tonight's meeting.
Murupara Community Board Member Mem Jenner says she want to keep the town's economy running smoothly.
"Making sure that our businesses and our locals have some form of accessibility to cashflow."
She denied that the town is running out of money, but told Heather du Plessis-Allan that shops have limited the amount of money they can hand out to customers.
Jenner says that people will have to go to Whakatane or Rotorua if they want to get large amounts of cash out.
"We're waiting until the community comes to a party and we find solutions."
A Murupara community member, who would not be named, said suggestions the town had now run out of money were exaggerations. However, the man confirmed businesses had been restricting the amount of money going out.
"It's challenging for people, but I think the local community will work together on this. There is a meeting tonight and discussions with the bank."
She says that the town would love to have the ATM put back in, and are waiting to hear more from the bank.
The man said the bank was important to the community as it was "a service a lot of people rely on".
"Hopefully common sense prevails. Hopefully, it will provide some service for the community."
The man said he felt Murupara had received a bad reputation from the ATM theft and other incidents such as the theft of ambulance equipment in March. This was "unfair", he said.
"I see bad stuff happening in other places ... but being a small community, the bad stuff, that's blown out of proportion. Generally speaking, the community here are wonderful.
"Most likely someone's come from out of town. I don't know who, or what, or anything, but it seems a bit out of context with the community."
Murupara resident Mem Jenner said community leaders were meeting this evening to discuss the town's position.
The economic development of the town sat high among the priorities of the leaders and they were looking for positive ways forward, she said.