Westpac bank will let some struggling borrowers take a year-long break from repayments and is offering other forms of help to customers hit by the recession.
Westpac spokesperson Craig Dowling says the bank has always been open to helping troubled debtors, but the global economic slowdown has prompted it to set official protocols.
He says assistance will be offered on a case-by-case basis, as the option of delaying repayments will not be suitable for all borrowers.
Australian-owned Westpac, the first bank in New Zealand to offer a repayment holiday, is also offering to allow some borrowers to make interest-only payments or to extend the period of their loan.
The bank says it will brief staff on the appropriate way to manage situations of short-term financial hardship where people cannot meet their mortgage obligations.
Australia's big four banks pitch in
The Australian Bankers Association announced last Sunday that the Commonwealth, NAB, Westpac and ANZ banks would postpone home loan repayments for up to 12 months for people in hardship.
The association said it had struck a deal with the federal government to help people who have lost their job and are struggling to pay the mortgage.