When Francis Antill (81) woke up on Saturday morning he had the smile of a man who had made it to his 60th wedding anniversary.
Unfortunately, it seemed he had not actually made it at all.
Work and Income New Zealand had decided Mr Antill was dead and sent his "widow" Joan (81) a letter on Friday to tell her his pension would be stopped.
Mrs Antill did not know what to think. As far as she knew, her husband was alive and well at the Thornleigh Park rest home in New Plymouth.
"It felt terrible," she said. "I rang Winz up and they said sorry but, well, it was an awful shock."
Her sentiments are echoed by her daughter, Carole King, who wonders just where Winz got its information about her father.
She said they had decided against telling him he was deceased least it upset him, but the rest of their family knew their "Poka" was considered no longer among the living.
"I just don't want this to happen to another person.
"What would you do if you didn't have a family to look after you and you got a letter like this? They make too many mistakes and then they just say sorry. It's not good enough."
Mrs King admitted the family had seen the funny side in the letter but were hoping the implications of their patriach's death could be reversed as easily as they were instigated.
Already Mrs Antill's disability allowance of just over $15 a fortnight to pay for her visits to her husband's rest home has been cut and Poka was to stop receiving his pension money in four weeks.
It was not all gloom. Winz sent out another letter detailing how much money Mrs Antill could apply for to cover funeral costs.
She is eligible for $1406.31 but there is one catch; she needs his death certificate to get the cash.
And even though they have been married for 60 years, there are some things her husband refuses to do.
Winz could not be contacted for comment.
- Taranaki Daily News
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