Postal cuts plan concerns elderly

By Kiri Gillespie

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The proposal to halve the number of postal delivery days in New Zealand has received a lukewarm response from members of the Western Bay of Plenty's older and more isolated generation.

This week, NZ Post released a formal proposal to cut mail delivery days from six to three a week, to allow greater flexibility.

Tauranga pensioner Bert Turner said the notion of such an idea was sad. "I like the old-fashioned way. I've got two sons overseas, one in Perth and the other in America. That's how I get most of my contact from them," the 86-year-old said.

"I use it myself for sending cards for birthdays, Easter and things like that."

Mr Turner said it would be a sad day if the postal deliveries were cut.

"There are a lot of people I know who wait for the postie arriving - even if there's no mail - the postie's there and often it's just a wave or a 'hello'. It's a sort of human contact they have, which I think is very important. We are losing part of humanity by going into electronics."

Mr Turner said many older people, like himself "wouldn't have a clue about computers" and were not about to start learning.

Meanwhile, an advocacy group for rural women has expressed its concern for older people living alone.

Rural Women New Zealand national president Liz Evans said while the group understood NZ Post needed to address the dramatic decrease in mail volumes, the special role of the rural delivery service needed to be acknowledged and preserved as far as possible.

Mrs Evans said the service was a real lifeline for many people.

"Parcels posted to and from rural areas already incur extra costs and we would not wish to see further targeting of rural customers who are so dependent on the mail service.

"For some living in remote areas, the rural delivery contractor is the only contact with the outside world for days at a time. Several [members] mentioned how important this is in combating loneliness, which can lead to depression, another very real problem for rural areas."

The group would be further consulting with its members on the proposal and making a formal submission to NZ Post.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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