Reserve Bank responding to Christchurch earthquake

Release date
23 February 2011

The Reserve Bank said today it is working closely with authorities and financial institutions to ensure financial services are available to people and businesses in Christchurch following the damaging earthquakes yesterday.

Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard extended sympathy to the people of Christchurch affected by the disaster.

"We can only imagine how difficult this is with the loss of lives, homes and buildings, the injuries and dislocation for people in Christchurch. The Reserve Bank is working hard to assist the recovery as fast as possible in terms of access to financial services, and ensuring markets remain stable," Dr Bollard said.

The Reserve Bank is coordinating its assistance in the recovery efforts with the Government's National Crisis Management Centre in Wellington.

"We are also working with affected banks and cash-in-transit companies to ensure the availability of cash in Christchurch. The Reserve Bank is ready and able to supply any cash required by banks.  We have ample cash reserves and will issue cash to banks on any day required during this emergency situation."

The Bank understands that some ATMs are operational. It is working closely with banks through issues of accessibility, electricity and telecommunications to ensure cash is available.

Dr Bollard said the Bank is monitoring financial markets, noting that New Zealand has well-established emergency procedures and insurance protocols.

"We have also been informed by banks that they are reinstating the loan assistance policies that were put in place after the September 2010 earthquake, and that the four major banks have each donated $1 million to support the immediate and long-term recovery."

No problems have been reported with the national payments and settlement systems that the Bank operates (ESAS and NZClear).

Media contact:
Mike Hannah
Head of Communications
Ph 04 4713671, 021 497418, mike.hannah@rbnz.govt.nz