Stores go, services remainLAUREN PRIESTLEY
Say goodbye to the St Heliers post office.
New Zealand Post announced on May 15 that four of its Auckland stores will be shutting their doors - St Heliers, Royal Oak, Penrose and North Harbour.
The plan is to offer PostShop services through other St Heliers businesses so customers do not miss out.
The St Heliers PostShop has been at its site for more than 30 years.
It is an institution, St Heliers-Glendowie Residents Association chairman Keith Savory says.
"We call it a village on purpose. We don't want to become another Mission Bay. The more services we have, the better it is for us."
A steady decline in letter volumes has forced New Zealand Post to develop a new strategy for the next five years that includes a progressive shift out of direct store ownership.
If residents can still post letters or bank at a nearby business, the plan could work, Savory says.
"I don't know what the rationale is, or the figures behind it, but I can totally understand where New Zealand Post is coming from.
"As long as the services remain, that's what we want."
St Heliers Business Association manager Wendy Caspersonn says the closure will have an impact. Customers generate revenue for other stores, she says.
"I understand their system is changing but for St Heliers, with the older demographics, there's still a lot of people that will be affected."
Kohimarama resident Ken Prendini says the St Heliers shop looks after a huge number of residents from surrounding suburbs.
The closest stores are at Eastridge and Glen Innes - certainly not within walking distance.
"I think it's ridiculous. There's a limit to how much money you can save on essential services," he says.
But St Heliers resident Ngaire Ross says she only really uses the post office to send items to grandchildren living overseas.
"Apart from that I don't really need it. The only thing that bothers me is if I want to send something and can't do it nearby."
Tamaki MP Simon O'Connor says it is an understandable decision but still a sad one.
"It has been well-signalled by New Zealand Post but obviously the post office is a real part of the community. It has been there for so many years."
New Zealand Post store network general manager Jon Andrews says the change is a response to how customers are using services.
The company will be talking to businesses to find a suitable partner, he says.
"Our customers are changing quite dramatically and we're making sure we move with the times and create relevant services going forward.
"Post has been around for so long, 170 years, that people generally associate a community with a post shop. We will not be removing services, we will just be providing them in a different location."
The PostShop will be open until new local operators are found.
- East And Bays Courier
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