After 41 years of service Helen De Menech is moving on from New Zealand Post.

Having joined what was then a government department straight out of Kapiti College, Helen started in 1976 in a maternity cover role in the Paraparaumu mail room.

Working in the mail room for a year, sorting, dispatching and redistributing mail, Helen experienced the postal service in its heyday before the likes of email and Facebook.

"Christmas was absolutely hectic, nothing like it is today.

Advertisement

"It was absolutely full-on."

However this did not deter Helen.

After a year in the mail room she became permanent and moved into the retail area doing banking, stamps and other odd jobs that the post shops previously dealt with.

"We had to deal with telegrams, stamps and vehicle registration which was a lot more involved than it is today.

"We did banking before Kiwibank came about, with the schools little squirrel-wise bankbook programme."

After retail, came six months of telephone services for Helen.

"You could really only tolerate a small amount of time in that department.

"By the third month, the complaints that came in about people getting wrong toll calls on their telephone accounts was enough," she laughs.

Helen rotated around the mail room, retail and telephone services roles every six months or so, which kept her interested until she was made postmistress of Paekakariki in 1988.

In 1990 Helen came back to Paraparaumu in charge of posties and has since been involved in a number of projects for New Zealand Post.

One such project involved working with Nike, New Balance, Reebok and Asics on new shoes for posties nationwide.

This involved a lot of new learning for Helen, including peculiar realities to contend with such as people in Auckland tending to have wider feet than elsewhere.

During her time at New Zealand Post Helen has experienced it all.

During a postie strike in the 1990s there were workers from Wellington who came out to help deliver the mail.

"They managed to get all the mail out, so of course the next day they (Paraparaumu posties) walk in and are disappointed to see all the mail delivered.

"They were expecting to have all this extra mail to deliver and overtime hours.

"So the next day when the helpers went to deliver the second day's mail they went out to their bikes and what was missing but their seats.

"So they couldn't deliver the mail.

"Eventually we did find them but it took us a while and we did manage to get the mail delivered that day too."

Having worked with the same organisation for such an impressive time Helen has seen a lot of change over the years.

"Things have continually changed throughout the years, technology, modes of transport, computers…"

One such change is the introduction of 'Paxter' postal buggies which are set to be rolled out in Paraparaumu later this year.

While Helen has enjoyed the continuously changing industry, it is time to move on.

"I've enjoyed the interaction with the customers and people I work with.

" 'll miss that."

Brigid Howard, a friend of Helen's said, "Helen is a well-known and much-loved face in our district.

"She's one of those Kapiti people who seem to know everyone.

"Whenever I'm out with her she's always recognised and ends up chatting with so many people in the community."