A Christchurch bank is being accused of elder abuse after trespassing a 93-year-old customer who is legally deaf and suffers from dementia.
The action was taken two weeks ago when Cheng Kung got into an argument with the manager at the Bank of New Zealand branch in Upper Riccarton, Christchurch, who claimed Mr Kung hit her with an umbrella.
Mr Kung, who can talk but needs people to write down what was communicated, denied hitting the manager with the umbrella and said it only struck the woman's desk.
"I am very angry. [I have] lost my personal dignity," he said.
Following his argument with the manager over his belief the bank short changed him, BNZ withdrew all his money from his current account and sent him a cheque, he said.
But it took over a week to reach him, during which time he had no money.
Neighbour Cecelia Miras, who has a background working with dementia sufferers, said she was outraged at how he was treated, labelling it "elder abuse".
Mr Kung was wrong to lose his temper but the bank overreacted, Ms Miras said.
"Maybe he's sick, [he's] hyperglycaemic, he has diabetes you know.
"He may be thirsty, he may be dehydrated, who knows. I know the bank has the right to deal with the situation but I think they over-reacted ... trespassing a 93-year-old man."
BNZ was not able to comment on Mr Kung's case due to privacy concerns but in a statement said it needed to ensure customers and staff were safe.
After the incident, Ms Miras complained and was told by the bank there was limited capability to help Mr Kung because staff were not trained in how to deal with people suffering from dementia. She wanted bank staff to have better training in this regard.
"It's just not fair because we are in New Zealand, you really value the human rights, you value old people, but the way he has been treated I think that he felt discriminated [against] and he said he lost his dignity as a person," she said.
Age Concern is helping Mr Kung, but did not want to comment specifically on his case.
Its chief executive, Simon Templeton, agreed businesses needed to do better to cater for people with dementia.
"We have a lot of people living in the community today who are supported to stay in the community and live a busy active life with mild and even moderate dementia and we know that those numbers are going to increase."