The prospect of postal deliveries being curtailed to as little as three days a week has some South Cantabrians concerned they'll be left out of the loop, but others say they won't miss the mail.
Communications Minister Amy Adams yesterday announced New Zealand Post's proposal to alter its Deed of Understanding with the government.
The proposed changes include cutting the number of days mail is delivered to a minimum of three a week and introducing more self-service kiosks.
"During the last 10 years mail volumes have dropped considerably, with 265 million fewer items being posted each year compared to 2002," Ms Adams said. "Within five years, mail volumes are forecast to be nearly half what they were in 2002."
"The time is now to make the necessary decisions for the future," New Zealand Post Group CEO Brian Roche said. "Every postal system around the world is facing similar challenges and they are beginning to act. We cannot stand still and simply hope the problems will go away. We are seeking an agreement that gives us the flexibility and certainty to be able to plan for that future."
Many South Cantabrians who spoke to The Timaru Herald yesterday said they rarely relied on "snail mail" and weren't bothered, but a few expressed concerns over how it would impact on rural residents and the elderly.
"My concern is that a lot of elderly people don't use computers and mobile phones and they could be left behind," Timaru resident Doris Warne said. "Many of their families are living overseas and the post is how they keep in contact."
Rural resident Melissa Richards of Hunter said her mail already took a long time to arrive and the proposed change would likely make it "even longer".
The proposed changes would be most felt by "communities who have already lost physical services and have few technological options available", Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills said.
"Even if we take the most optimistic assumptions about rural broadband, it still leaves some 86,000 people off-line."
The full text of the proposal is available online and open for public feedback at www.med.govt.nz/sectors-industries/technology-communication/postal-policy/consultation-on-proposed-changes-to-new-zealand-posts-deed-of-understanding. Submissions are due by 5pm on Tuesday, March 12.
- The Timaru Herald