A postie hid thousands of letters and parcels in his house then left New Zealand.
New Zealand Post is calling in police after hundreds of people missed out on the mail discovered stashed in the postman's house. He is believed to have gone overseas.
Some have been left with penalty fees for missed bills, late mortgage payments, undelivered hospital notices and missing gifts.
Northern operations manager for New Zealand Post, Michael Lewis, said the postie worked for the organisation for only a matter of weeks and had been dismissed.
"A substantial number of mail items have been recovered that should have been delivered to Papatoetoe addresses in late August," Lewis said.
"The mail had been stored where the postie was staying and was handed to us by people at that property. The recovered mail has been sent to customers with a letter of explanation." Lewis said a complaint against the former employee would be laid with police.
About 3000 items of mail destined for residents of 728 homes in Papatoetoe were found in the postman's home. Some had been opened.
Dolly Tugaga is among those who missed a mortgage payment. She now has to prove the non-delivery of mail was the reason for the missed payment.
Neighbour Nezmeen Khan had been blaming herself for late penalties, thinking she had misplaced the mail somewhere.
Mail sent to the family of severe eczema sufferer, 7-year-old Asim Khan, was also held up. A letter from Auckland City Hospital to his mother, Shahesta, notifying her the boy was to undergo allergy testing to determine whether his limited diet could be expanded, was among the snail-mail cache.
"It is not like life or death but [Asim's illness] is something that affected my whole family," Shahesta Khan said.
Fortunately, she was alerted to her son's appointment and the requirements for the food trial when she called the hospital. "We would not have known about the two-week trial period that needs to happen before the appointment, and if we had gone without doing that, it would have been a waste of time."
Gurdeep Singh said his children had been expecting presents from family in India for Raksha Bandhan, a Hindu festival celebrating the love and duty between brothers and sisters, which did not arrive until the celebrations had ended.
"It is quite disappointing and quite annoying when you have children who are expecting something to arrive in the post and it never shows up," Singh said.
New Zealand Post was this week delivering the mail. Recipients also received an apology note.
The letter states: "It would appear that these item(s) were taken without authorisation prior to delivery.
"We have notified our New Zealand Post Security team about this matter. The person responsible no longer works for New Zealand Post and it appears they have left New Zealand to go overseas."