Hokitika postal services are in line for another dramatic overhaul next month, when the posties will be replaced with a contractor.

Long-term posties Chris Mathieson and Mary Fittock - who together have been delivering mail in Hokitika for the past 46 years - will be made redundant on November 1, when a new contractor takes over the New Zealand Post contract for Hokitika mail and courier services.

The change does not affect rural deliveries.

Mathieson, who last month clocked up 30 years on her bike, said the change followed the recent amalgamation of the post office, and was welcomed. Both had sought redundancy.


Mathieson said postal services had changed significantly over the past three decades, and volumes of mail had dropped dramatically with the rise of on-line services: "You can see why they [NZ Post] are going the way they are."

As of Monday, delivery to Hokitika households moved to every second day. Mail to properties west of Brittan St is now being delivered on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with those to the east receiving theirs on alternate days.

NZ Post recently advised of the changes in a pamphlet drop: "As New Zealanders do more online, they're sending fewer letters and more emails. Today, our posties deliver half the number of letters they used to. So, to make sure NZ Post is here for the long haul, we're changing the way we deliver mail around New Zealand."

Changes to delivery days had already been implemented in cities and larger towns, including Greymouth, last year and were now being rolled out in smaller towns, NZ Post said.

Courier packages would still be delivered overnight, and 95 per cent of mail would still be delivered within three working days.

NZ Post West Coast area manager Matt Bell said in a separate and unrelated change, that NZ Post had decided to contract out mail delivery services.

"Two full-time posties will be made redundant as a result of this, but it was not unexpected and they are leaving on good terms. It is not unusual for mail delivery services to be run by a contractor in smaller towns," Bell said.

The company said it would be the contractor's responsibility to hire people if they needed to, although all employees would have to be approved by NZ Post.

"In Hokitika, we understand at least one person will be employed by the contractor."
NZ Post said it was unable to confirm the new contractor yesterday but the Guardian understands it is an Australian franchise.

In May, Photo Corner took over the Hokitika Post Shop franchise to continue to provide basic face-to-face postal services, and to maintain the private post boxes.

- Hokitika Guardian