Shutters go down to open hearts for community work

Ansuya Naidoo –

BNZ staff recently spent a valuable day providing translation services for the Henderson Lincoln Business Association as part of the Bank’s annual ‘Closed for Good’

volunteering day.

On August 31, 2016, all BNZ stores and offices were shut so that more than 3200 ‘BNZers’ could get out into the community to help on hundreds of projects around New Zealand.

In Henderson (West Auckland), BNZ staff fluent in Hindi, Marathi, Urdu, Cantonese and Mandarin, spent the day as translators allowing the Association to forge direct connections with their linguistically diverse members.

Meaningful engagement

shutters-go-down-to-open-hearts-bnz-staff-at-howick-webThe team was accompanied by Constable Mandeep Kaur (Ethnic Communities Relations Officer at Waitemata Police District) and other members of the local Police to engage in meaningful conversations with business owners around crime and safety.

Project Manager Robbie Ellis said that the project was enormously successful at a number of levels.

The team visited more than 200 businesses on the day and collected both contact information and data on issues Henderson businesses are facing.

The Henderson Lincoln Business Association is now using the information collected to broaden its network as well as to understand where efforts should be focused for business owners who may not have English as a first language.

“We found that local business owners were extremely happy that they could tap into the resources on offer now that the language barrier had been broken down. It was also enormously valuable for us, as it always is, to spend time in the community talking to people about the challenges they are dealing with. Being able to do this in peoples’ language of choice made it even more rewarding,” Robbie said.

Community Projects

This year more than 530 community projects were completed on August 31, 2016.

BNZ Chief Executive Anthony Healy said that he was delighted with the projects in which the bank staff got involved and that the scale of the day was demonstrated in Auckland alone where BNZ staff worked on 181 projects.

“Community organisations provide vital services in their local area and they are always stretched for resources. This is a small way in which we can leverage the scale of BNZ to help, by getting stuck in to maintenance or gardening, providing business guidance on marketing and budget plans to running financial literacy and scam savvy workshops,” he said.

“All our people receive two volunteer days a year and embrace the chance to get out there and help across every sector of the community – from supporting local schools or their town Plunket group to helping with environmental clean-up efforts and running workshops at the Citizens Advice Bureau,” Mr Anthony said.

Largest Single Day

‘Closed for Good’ was first run in 2009.

It is unquestionably the largest single day of corporate volunteering in New Zealand. Since its inception, BNZ staff have provided 140,000 volunteer hours of time on over 2500 projects.

They have also delivered hundreds of financial literacy workshops on money basics, general financial literacy or being scam savvy and more than 200 skilled projects where staff use expertise to help solve a problem or plan across areas such as human resources, finance, marketing, digital and social media strategy.

It was a bold decision made seven years ago to shut the bank for the day.

But volunteering is one of the unsung heroes of the economy and the bank knows that the groups asking for help are often the engine rooms of our communities and make a huge impact in New Zealanders lives.

shutters-go-down-to-open-hearts-bnz-logo-webAnsuya Naidoo is Head of Indian Community Banking at BNZ, Title Sponsor, ‘Best Large Business’ and ‘Supreme Business of the Year’ categories of the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards 2016. BNZ was also the Title Sponsor of the Sixth Annual Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture held on July 25, 2016.

Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards Ceremony will be held on Monday, November 28, 2016 at Sky City Convention Centre, Auckland. Tickets priced at $150 plus GST and tables seating ten persons at $1500 plus GST per table are now available. Please call (09) 3910203 or 021-836528; Email:

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