I am anxious and annoyed about, as you concisely put it “Kiwibank’s cessation of cheque usage and the general trend of government departments and various other agencies to force people into the use of digital technology.” I am all for appropriate technology – the bicycle, for example, I regard as the peak of transport technology and I use and celebrate it all the time. It makes my life, not necessarily easier but certainly better. I think we humans have an unfortunate tendency to choose what makes life easier rather than better, and also to take up every new ‘advance’ in technology without any critical assessment of whether we really need it. So obviously I am a bit of a cranky old Giddite.
The looming abolition of cheques really gets up my throat though… When I got a letter from IRD telling me they were soon not going to accept cheques any more, and then listing all the other options that were available. I pointed out in a letter back to them that none of the options available to me – a 75 year old living an active life in a rural setting – were anything like as useful or convenient as cheques. I have no computer, and don’t intend to get one, I live out of cellphone range (thank heavens), my nearest bank is a return journey of three hours away on my fastest available transport option (my wonderful well-maintained mountain bike, my other option being my two ageing legs), but that I was all for paying my rightful share of taxes as a responsible and indeed markedly left-leaning citizen. So if IRD refuses my cheque, I would have the money owing to them safely under my mattress and they were very welcome to come and get it whenever it was most convenient for them to do so. I actually got a reply, thanking me for my letter and saying they would phone me soon to discuss options, but I haven’t heard from them yet. They are probably a few months behind at their desks too.
Because we are a charitable trust running Hinewai Reserve, each time I do ride off to Akaroa I bank up to 30 donation cheques, which I list separately on an additional sheet (the form provided by the bank allows space for only 7 cheques). Each time I add in red at the bottom. The threatened abolition of the common form of elder abuse, and a senior blow to Charities such as ourselves.
My lovely teller at the local BNZ branch agree with me.
I do think the cessation of cheques is wrong, or at the very least seriously premature, and I will keep telling the banks so. I am appalled that it is Kiwibank that is leading the way – what a betrayal!
Hugh Wilson is the Reserve Manager of Hinewai Reserve. Hinewai is an ecological restoration project on Banks Peninsula, privately owned and managed by the Maurice White Native Forest Trust, but freely open the public on foot. Hinewai Reserve occupies 1250 hectares in the south-eastern corner of Banks Peninsula on the South Island’s east coast. The reserve lies east of the town of Akaroa. For more information about the reserve click here.