Finance Minister Grant Robertson told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking this morning that at this stage the Government did not know how many people would take up the offer, which is open to people whose incomes have been affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“The criteria we have put in place, or the banks have put in place is around being affected by Covid-19, and clearly many mortgage holders will have been and will be.”

Robertson said the option gave people time and the security of knowing they would not lose their home.

“It just defers the payments but they will end up being added on to the mortgage at the end.

“It is principal and interest so that also will mean a significant bill, but I’m very pleased the banks have stepped up for this and taken that pressure off home owners who are worried about losing their homes for the next few months.”

The offer means people’s principal payments will be stopped while the interest will be added to the loan.

Claire Matthews, a banking expert at Massey University, told Newstalk ZB people should only take loan holidays if they really needed to.

“If you expect to be paid as normal, then you should continue to pay your loan as normal, because nothing has really changed for you.”