16 Jan 2010

Remittances to Pacific drop

7:29 pm on 16 January 2010

Bank data indicates the amount of money sent by New Zealand's Pacific Islander population to family back home is likely to be down 10% over the last year.

Economics professor John Gibson, of Waikato University, says the money from New Zealand makes up about a third of the estimated $600 million sent annually and the recession has had an impact.

Professor Gibson says information from the central banks of many Pacific Island nations shows remittances have declined.

He says cheaper and more efficient ways to transfer money are needed, such as the Westpac Bank twin-card system which allows an account loaded in New Zealand to be drawn down by family in the Pacific.

But Westpac says since its launch two years ago only 2000 cards have been issued, with transactions made to the value of about $400,000. The bank says it is not easy to wean people from costly but familiar transfer services.