Darryl Kirby's 50-year love affair with a former post office will come to an end on Wednesday when the 103-year-old building goes to auction.
Mr Kirby first saw the Epsom Post Office in the early 1960s.
He'd just arrived in New Zealand and the bus he caught to work would stop outside.
"I was quite struck by it," he says.
"I would say quietly to myself ‘one day I will own you'.
"Of course it was a government building so I never expected I would, but 23 years later I did."
The unexpected opportunity came in 1990 when the the government started selling off post offices.
Mr Kirby and his wife Valerie soon realised that placing the winning bid at auction wasn't the biggest hurdle they'd face.
The building hadn't been well looked after and it needed refurbishing before they could run their advertising business from it.
"There was quite a lot of opposition from the locals, all sorts of rumours were flying around about what would happen with ‘our post office'," he says.
"In the end I got the builder to put the plans on a board outside, it died down after that."
The renovations included restoring the old windows, building new offices and a deck and creating a false ceiling to cover the worn out original.
"The architect said the ceiling would be too hard to restore but it's still under there," he says.
Mr Kirby got two letters from councillors commending the work when it was complete which still hang in the post office's reception area.
He scored another victory in the battle for hearts and minds when he started giving out free stamps at the reception desk.
"For quite a long time after it wasn't a post office any more a lot of the older people would turn up almost out of habit wanting stamps.
"It was illegal to sell them so in the end I got the receptionist to buy a couple of books and give them out when they came in."
Mr Kirby was once being interviewed outside the office by television personality Paul Holmes for a story about the government's sell-offs when an older woman marched into reception, slapped some money on the counter and asked for stamps.
"The camera crew was completely gobsmaked," he says
"The receptionist quickly obliged."
Making the decision to sell was tough Mr Kirby says.
"It's the only other property apart from my home that I've never wanted to sell. My wife says it's been the other woman in my life."
He says he is a hands-on property owner and likes to get involved with the maintenance.
"I'm 22 years older now and my wife and I would like to slow down."
The building has a Historic Places Trust category two classification.
Somebody who appreciates the history of the building would be the ideal buyer, Mr Kirby says.
Facades on the outside of the post office can't be touched but almost anything can be done inside.
"I would hate to see somebody buy it and paint is some hideous colour," he says.
The Epsom Post Office will be auctioned by Bayleys on October 31.
See bayleys.co.nz for information.
- © Fairfax NZ News