NZ Post seeks approval stamp on delivery cut

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 05:00 30/01/2013
Nanette Hynson
CHRIS HILLOCK/ Fairfax NZ
TRY HARDER: Nanette Hynson says a greater effort should be made to retain a full postal service.

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Mum, grandma and lover of letters, Nanette Hynson reckons cutting postal delivery to as little as three days a week is "ridiculous". Five days, maybe.

But three would be too few for the 82-year-old Hamilton resident, who pens about three letters a week.

New Zealand Post said yesterday it's seeking to change the Deed of Understanding it signed with the Crown in 1998 in order to get "greater flexibility" and maintain profitability. It's reacting to plummeting mail volumes associated with the digital revolution, the state-owned company said.

Among the proposed changes is an option to cut the mandatory delivery from six days to a minimum of three and an increase in self-service kiosks.

It came as a shock to Ms Hynson. She doesn't email or text and while many of her peers are tech-savvy there are many who are not.

"To get in touch with my grandsons it's got to be by letter," she says.

"It has to arrive there on a certain day. When he's at his father's [house] I write to him and that letter needs to be there on the Friday. So I post a letter to him on Wednesday, and nine times out of ten it's there on Friday."

Ms Hynson wants her cards to arrive on a certain day and she fears the changes could undermine that.

"In another ten years maybe they could do it but at the moment I feel there's still people, my generation, that don't have email. In the future, OK, everyone's going to have it . . . but you have still got thousands of older people around who do like the mail."

The deed's last major review was in 1998 and the postal service is now rapidly running toward loss-making territory. Its network was designed for volumes of around 1.2 billion pieces of mail and they are now delivering 835 million pieces. Volumes are forecast to drop to 627 million within five years and the rise of online shopping cannot offset those losses.

Costs have risen too, due in part to an increase in delivery points.

Waikato Chamber of Commerce CEO Sandra Perry said businesses are unlikely to be affected and she had received no negative feedback after the news broke.

Federated farmers president Bruce Wills said they would fight any move to install a rural delivery fee.

New Zealand's largest company, Fonterra, now communicates with its farmers via email, text, websites and Sky broadcast; milk supply director Steve Murphy said most of their farmers aren't as reliant on the post as they used to be.

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"At the same time we do still use the postal service, and we'll need to look at what is being proposed in detail and how we can manage this with our farmers."

Submissions on the proposal are open and they close at 5pm on March 12.

NZ Post's proposal, with input from public submissions, will form the basis of a paper to be put to the Cabinet outlining a new agreement between the Government and NZ Post. That process is expected to take some months.

- Waikato Times

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