Posties Don and Pat hand over the keys

The Tarata community has farewelled rural postie Don Robertson and his wife Pat at a function held in their honour at Tarata Hall and welcomed newcomer Sharon Pekelaar.

In a letter to Don, read at Friday's function by hall chairman Bryan Hockem, general manager delivery networks New Zealand Post Stu Kane said the community farewell event served as a great reminder of the important role Rural Post plays in New Zealand's rural communities.

Stu, who has family in the area, says he knows from his many visits the high regard the community has for the Robertsons.

"The fact that the Tarata Community has also come together to recognise and thank you for your efforts is a great tribute to the excellent service that you have provided for the last 12 years," he wrote.

Bryan rallied the community together to pay tribute to the Robertsons and introduce themselves to their new postie. Sharon, who lives in Bell Block on a farmlet with daughters Candice (16) and Stacey (13), husband Erik and a number of chooks with which she is starting a free range egg business, takes over the RD7 contract this week.

Coming from a career in accounting and finance, it was the lifestyle that attracted her to apply for the contract, she says.

The biggest plus would be getting to know the RD7 community better and the biggest challenge, getting up very early in the mornings, she says.

Don's day typically started at 4am. After sorting the post at the Inglewood post office, he would leave on his run about 7am and finish four to five hours later. In his 12 years he missed only five or six days of delivery due to floods or slips, with Pat acting as his relief driver, serving the Inglewood, Kaimata, Tarata and Purangi rural areas.

Don, says one of the first things on his to-do list now is to have a nice sleep-in and then to chase a few more golf balls and go fishing.

For Pat, retirement means more time to spend with the family, especially as daughter Sharon Guerrie is moving back to Taranaki with husband Paolo and son Alexander (4) after 16 years in the UK.

Don, who was previously a phone technician at Telecom, says the past 12 years have been very rewarding.

"It has been wonderful. It is a lovely lifestyle."

Don, who was born and raised in Stratford, hasn't considered moving. Neither has Pat, who came here in the early 1960s to nurse at the Stratford Hospital, retiring from nursing six years ago.

"The greatest pleasure was seeing the kids grow up, and the dogs coming out,"says Pat.

- Stratford Press

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