Eighty-seven years after moving to Palmerston North, Betty Williams has received a welcome-to-the-city pack from the council.
"You've made a good decision to move here," reads the message from Mayor Jono Naylor.
The pack arrived at the 89 year old's address at Julia Wallace Retirement Village, where she has lived in an apartment for four years, while Mrs Williams was in hospital.
It contains, among other things, a couple of rubbish bags, some post cards and introduction-to-the-neighbours cards, information brochures and an invitation to morning tea with the mayor.
Daughter Brenda said the pack had given her mother something fresh to talk about after three weeks in hospital.
"It really did make her laugh."
But she was cross about the expense of putting the packs together and then posting them to the wrong people.
City council executive support general manager Jane Julian said she was appalled by the error.
The welcome packs have been sent out in some form to new ratepayers since the mid-1990s.
New residents are identified when solicitors send in a notice of sale for updating rates records. In most cases, council staff can easily identify if someone has simply moved within the city, or there has been a name change.
But Mrs Williams has not bought or sold a property for four years, since she moved to Julia Wallace. She is not a ratepayer, and has no need for rubbish bags.
Ms Julian was at a loss to explain why her name had popped up on the new residents' list.
"We feel that it remains important that Palmerston North is seen as a welcoming and friendly city. We would rather get it wrong occasionally, than not do it at all."
Mr Naylor said Mrs Williams' invitation to have a cup of tea with him would be honoured.
"If she is unable to get to me, then I will take morning tea to her."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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