‘How many will lose their benefit’: Work and Income closes Whangārei centre for refurbishment with no temporary office

An announcement that Work and Income New Zealand will temporarily close its Whangārei Service Centre without any replacement office has left some clients anxious and questions unanswered.

The centre located at Walton Plaza, 4 Albert St, Whangārei will be temporarily closed for six weeks from this Thursday June 8 until Monday July 24.

In an email to clients on its Whangarei database, Work and Income said also there will be no temporary office while the upgrading works are being done.

A client, who gave her name only as Jackie, said not everyone is familiar with doing things online.


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“The phone system is inadequate in normal times, what nightmare will be the result of being locked out,” she said.

“How many will lose their benefit for ‘failure to attend appointment’ made ages ago?

“What do new clients do when they arrive at a Closed for Business sign on the door?

“They won’t have a WINZ number to access any account.”


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Jackie questioned why there was no temporary office and how will documents requiring signing, copying and date stamped be handled.

“Those on the lowest rung of society are being treated with disrespect, no consideration for their plight, and other negative treatment,” she said.

Ministry of Social Development (MSD) regional director for Northland, Kiriwai Welsh, said the centre was being upgraded to provide a better experience for clients, staff and visitors.

The refurbished centre will also provide Whangārei clients with more privacy when they talk with a case manager and added security for clients, visitors, and staff.

“We’re looking forward to the upgrade. The changes have been tested and are already in place across Te Tai Tokerau, with our Whangārei location the final site in the region to be upgraded,” Welsh said.

Dedicated employment spaces in front-of-house areas are also being created to help support more New Zealanders into work.

“During the upgrade, we’ll be able to help people online and over the phone, including phone appointments. If we need to meet with someone face-to-face, we will meet with them from a temporary location by appointment,” she said.

Most clients, she said, could be supported over the phone by case managers and work brokers, which was why there would be no temporary office.

“Our requirements for a service centre, including security and IT, are quite specific, so we haven’t been able to set up a full temporary walk-in office for this period,” Welsh said.

There will also be some staff available at the service centre to provide support with queries and documents while the office is being upgraded, including helping those who needed documents to be signed.


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Welsh also denied that clients were being treated with disrespect or negatively treated.

“We are passionate about helping the communities we serve, which is why we have put plans in place to ensure everyone who needs our support can access it during this time,” she said.

“Our staff will continue to work hard during this temporary closure to support our whānau in Whangārei and across the Northland region.”

Clients can apply for help online by visiting my.msd.govt.nz or book an appointment through 0800 559 009 for Work and Income and 0800 552 002 for Senior Services.

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