Colourful tales from what was the hub of a Far North town for more than a century are in a new book.

In Praise of Our Post Office, by Whangaroa writer Fiona Craig, tells the story of the 102-year-old building's past life as a post office and telephone exchange. It is now the Far North District Council's Kaeo customer service centre and library.

Craig told a packed Kaeo Library at the book's launch earlier this month her interviews with former post office and exchange employees made entertaining reading.

Subscribers were so awed when the telegraph first came to Whangaroa they sang songs to one another down the line. A former worker recalled wind gusts in a storm once sucked away a lineman's false teeth as he barked orders to workmates restoring power. Postal staff remembered handling unusual items including a box of bees and a wooden leg.


Craig also discovered Whangaroa once had 14 post offices dotted around the hills, often the only means of communication for isolated folk.

Twenty locals and the Whangaroa Museum and Archives Society contributed stories or helped with research.

Craig singled out council governance officer Sheryl Bainbridge for commissioning and helping secure finance for the book.

The Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board was one of several organisations that provided grants. A World War I Commemorations fund, administered by the Lottery Environment and Heritage Committee chaired by councillor Sally Macauley, also gave funding for the book.