Castlepoint mailbox removal angers

By Nathan Crombie

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WISH YOU WERE HERE: Ian Lucas (left), Tinui Freight rural mail contractor, and Devon Oakly, Castlepoint Store owner, stand where a mailbox had been sited for at least seven years before NZ Post removed the service this month. PHOTO/LYNDA FERINGA
WISH YOU WERE HERE: Ian Lucas (left), Tinui Freight rural mail contractor, and Devon Oakly, Castlepoint Store owner, stand where a mailbox had been sited for at least seven years before NZ Post removed the service this month. PHOTO/LYNDA FERINGA

The NZ Post removal of a public mailbox at Castlepoint has angered beach store owner Devon Oakly and a rural mail contractor on the district run.

Mr Oakly, who has owned the Castlepoint Store for 13 years, said a mailbox had been onsite "since Adam was a cowboy".

At least seven years ago NZ Post installed a free-standing mailbox, which the store's customers often parked near, Mr Oakly said.

It replaced an original mailing slot built into the building's frontage.

"I didn't like the idea because someone could have chucked a match in it and burnt us down, so they put a box in here - then we ran a PostShop at the same time, probably more than 10 years ago, which we were paid to do," he said.

"But they chopped that out, so we chopped the Post Office side of it out and that's when they put that new box out the front."

The store still sold stamps but not courier/delivery bags and boxes.

Rural mail contractor Ian Lucas said that less than two weeks ago, a car had "nudged" the mailbox.

"I couldn't get it open, so I rang the customer service centre and said someone has to come out and fix it. Their reaction to that was to come out and take it away," he said.

"It makes me very, very angry that they've taken it away because that Post Office box was not costing them anything because we don't get paid to clear it. We're expected to clear it as part of our contract but we don't get paid to do it," Mr Lucas said.

"So it's not as though it's costing them anything, and it's the first time in seven years, as far as I know, that they've had to do anything to it.

"It's never been vandalised or anything like that. It's never been a problem for them."

Mr Lucas said he had been emptying the mailbox since taking up the mail run seven years ago, which included deliveries and pick-ups at Tinui and Castlepoint.

He said the volume of mail was generally greater at Castlepoint than at Tinui and NZ Post had never requested an account of the mail volumes cleared from the beach mailbox.

"I've been told they (NZ Post) are actively trying to remove them (mailboxes). They're managing the volumes down to the level they can manage, so they say. And they say there's a drop in volumes, but they couldn't know because they've never asked.

"They go three days a week because of falling volumes and yet they're taking away access to the network - no wonder the volumes are falling," Mr Lucas said.

"I mean, they close the mailing slots in Masterton because the sorting room is an earthquake risk and stick us in the under the Daniell's Building instead, which has just been condemned as well."

Mr Oakly said the store still sold the stamps, as well as postcards, because an important function of the beachside mailbox was to receive mail posted by tourists.

"It's like we have a third-world mailing system," he said.

Mr Oakly will take his complaint to Wairarapa MP John Hayes if the box is not returned, and also may send a "wish you were here" postcard to NZ Post.

According to the NZ Post website, a mailbox which is cleared daily at noon is still available for use at the Castlepoint PostCentre on Jetty Rd. Tinui and Riversdale also have a mailbox each.

NZ Post could not be reached for comment.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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