12 Jun 2015

Post box protesters call for 'bit of heart'

9:52 pm on 12 June 2015

A hardy group of protesters braved squalls and showers to go into battle for their local post box in New Plymouth today, with one going as far as saying he might chain himself to it.

Moturoa resident Tom Waite is worried about how the loss of the St Aubyn Street post box will affect his elderly neighbours.

Moturoa resident Tom Waite is worried about how the loss of the St Aubyn Street post box will affect his elderly neighbours. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

The protesters chanted slogans and mailed letters telling the New Zealand Post chief executive Brian Roche to keep his hands off the St Aubyn St post box.

Moturoa resident Tom Waite lives nearby the post box, which is one of four slated for removal in New Plymouth this month.

Mr Waite said he was worried about how the removal of the service would affect his elderly neighbours.

"They use this box regularly, they're not on email or whatever else. This is what they are used to and what they use all the time.

"I mean they've worked all their damned lives, paid their rates, paid their taxes and this is just like another thing where nobody cares."

Mr Waite said New Zealand Post was state-owned and had a duty to proved the mail service.

"Maybe New Zealand Post has to get a little reality back into its corporate thinking. It's not all about the bottom line, there is a social responsibility that they have. It's not all about balancing the books."

The St Aubyn Street post box is outside the emporium of parrot-owning Stephen Parkes, who said he wouldn't rule out chaining himself to it.

Local resident Stephen Parkes and his parrot, Darling.

Local resident Stephen Parkes and his parrot, Darling. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

"We're just calling on New Zealand Post to show a bit of heart, that's all. There's nothing aggressive or violent about it, just a nice way of putting our point across and saying, 'leave it'."

New Zealand Post has removed 1300 or about 30 percent of is post boxes nationwide since 2008 in response to rapidly declining mail volumes and as it realigns its business to reflect the growth of parcel deliveries.

But Postal Workers Union district president John Maynard said while it recognised the number of letters being sent was falling, posties often got complaints about how difficult it was becoming to post mail.

"We have posties who have said to the company we are prepared to clear these boxes if you think the cost of couriers coming to clear them is a problem and the company has not agreed they've kept on pulling out the boxes even after we've asked them to stop."

Mr Maynard said he believed that New Zealand Post's mail delivery service was being privatised by stealth.

"This is an example of what New Zealand Post is doing right through the country, removing the roadside post boxes.

"And what's happening is as fast as these ones are going out in New Plymouth the private mail company DX (is putting its in) and now has more post boxes in New Plymouth than New Zealand Post does."

New Zealand Post chief operating officer of customer service delivery Ashley Smout said he understood that some people have an almost emotional attachment to the service they had become used to.

But New Zealand Post has to face up to the changes in customer behaviour.

"The reality is that with the 50 percent reduction in mail, our use of the post boxes is dwindling to a point where we can no longer sustain servicing them."

The New Plymouth post boxes are due to be removed on 22 June and in the meantime the public can give feedback via an 0800 number on the affected units.

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