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News : Work and Income New Zealand Suspending Services
Sept 16, 2014 -- Katikati's Work and Income New Zealand satellite sites and home visit services have been suspended indefinitely.
The suspension of services is to allow the government agency to review security measures and front line services throughout the country.
Katikati is the only area within the Bay of Plenty offering satellite sites. Standard WINZ services will be available at the offices situated throughout Tauranga.
Ministry of Social Development acting national commissioner Penny Rounthwaite says the review follows in the wake of the fatal shootings of two WINZ staff members in Ashburton on September 1.
"As a result of the tragic shootings MSD have initiated an urgent review of security. This has meant changing the way we work, including introducing controlled access to our service centres."
These measures will be in place until the ministry is sure of the safest way to offer their services, she says.
Since the shootings there have been a number of threats made against MSD staff across the country, which the agency has taken very seriously, she says.
Days after the Ashburton incident, staff at the Owens Place office in Mount Maunganui received two separate threats of violence from clients – one via phone, the other in the office.
Staff at the Greerton office were also on high alert after reports of a gun-wielding man being seen in the area on Thursday.
"While some of these may be idle threats, Police are taking action on each threat."
Penny says they regret any inconvenience caused to clients, but "security must take priority for our staff and our clients at this time".
Work and Income has asked clients to contact its call centre for more information, and if possible, help will be provided over the phone.
Should an appointment be required clients will need to travel to the main sites.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, September 16, 2014