Tauranga postie Robbie Gilmour epitomises the reasons why everyone likes the hardy souls who deliver the mail in all weathers.

Happy-go-lucky, friendly and dedicated to the ethos that the mail must get through, Robbie's 45 years as a postie ended yesterday when he retired.

The likeable family man was unable to recall a single time when weather prevented him from doing his run.

His most memorable moment was stopping a house fire in Harrisfield Dr, Hairini.

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Alerted by a horrible stench, he spotted smoke coming out of the house. Dashing across the front lawn, he called out asking if anyone was home and having got no reply he went inside where a frying pan was smoking on the stove. Robbie threw the pan on to the lawn and when the lid came off it burst into flames.

Born and raised in Tauranga, Robbie worked briefly in his father's Greerton hamburger bar before applying to become a postman.

''I thought it would be an interim thing until I found another job, but it went on and on.''

He loved the culture of the job and sense of belonging.

''Posties are always ready with a smile and hello. I've always enjoyed the job - I was never tempted to do anything else.''

And although the volume of letters had plummeted with the rise of the internet, the growth in parcels, for much the same reason, meant he was confident posties would be around for a long time yet.

Typically for Robbie, his last day at work was not an excuse to slacken off. After a special retirement morning tea, he set off on his last run.

He said it was not unusual for people to come out to the letterbox when they saw him coming. ''Some are lonely and like a little chat.''

Robbie liked that it was a healthy job.

''When you get out early in the morning and it is a beautiful day, it is the best job in the world.''

Robbie had special memories delivering mail in Mount Maunganui and the beauty of looking across Pilot Bay to Matakana Island followed by the ocean vistas on Marine Parade.

''I just loved it.''

He chose to stick with his e-bike when New Zealand Post introduced the distinctive buggies called Paxters.

''I didn't think I would very good at hopping on and off.''

Amazingly, Robbie has never been hit by a car in his 45 years delivering mail, even though Tauranga roads have become so much busier.

The worst that happened to him was being nipped by dogs and going over the handlebars going down Fantail Dr at Maungatapu.

Being chased by dogs happened a lot more in the old days, he said.

One of Robbie's favourite runs was through Welcome Bay's Greenwood Park Retirement Village. He became so well known that he featured on the front page of the village newspaper, The Bucket Times.

Robbie had fond memories of the days when people left little Christmas gifts out for their postie. ''But it's rare these days.''

He had no plans for retirement except to relax, do a few jobs around the house and think about what to do next.


Famous Kiwi writers and posties
- James K Baxter
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Source: Encyclopedia of New Zealand.