Communications Minister Amy Adams and NZ Post say it's too early to tell how many of 7000 postal employees will lose their jobs should a proposal to cut mail delivery services to three days a week go ahead.
The move was first suggested by former NZ Post chairman Jim Bolger three years ago in response to diving letter volumes due to the rise of email over the last two decades.
That decline has since accelerated sharply. NZ Post and Ms Adams yesterday morning released a formal proposal to cut mail delivery days from six to three days a week to allow "greater flexibility".
"During the last 10 years mail volumes have dropped considerably, with 265 million fewer items being posted each year compared to 2002. Within five years, mail volumes are forecast to be nearly half what they were in 2002," Ms Adams said.
The move would require changes to Universal Service Obligations - an agreement between NZ Post and the Government which guarantees postal services to the public.
NZ Post will also consider a proposal to bring self-service kiosks for some services.
"New Zealand Post has advised me that it considers changes are needed to ensure a sustainable postal service in the 21st century," said Ms Adams.
"Any change would require government approval, and before deciding what, if any, changes to make, I want to give the public the opportunity to comment on the proposals."
Spokesman John Tulloch said the electronic kiosks would provide a number of services from wiring parcels to paying bills. NZ Post was trialling kiosks in 10 stores, but they weren't necessarily the models that would be used.
"What we're looking at doing is putting more of that technology into the network to extend that presence."
While the prospect of an entirely kiosk-driven model wasn't likely soon, it was a possibility in the long-run, he said.
NZ Post employs about 7000 staff in its mail division including about 2200 posties. Ms Adams said job losses were "something that they'll be talking to their posties about".
"What they will have to look at is how they will provide that service whether they use the same posties doing different routes on different days." Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union spokesman Neil Jones said while the union had been aware of the future of post, this proposal had taken them by surprise. APN