By RUTH BERRY, Political Reporter

An Auckland postie who refused yesterday to deliver New Zealand First circulars which his union says incite violence against immigrants faces disciplinary action and could be sacked.

Thomas Shadbolt, of NZ Post's Dominion Rd branch, said yesterday that although his action could lose him his job he was prepared to take a moral stand. "If I was an immigrant family I would be offended to receive the circular."

His stand follows NZ Post's decision to reject a request by the Postal Workers Association to delay delivery of the circulars, which began yesterday in Auckland and Christchurch, so that the union could discuss its concerns.

NZ Post said it believed the circulars were lawful and warned posties that they would face disciplinary action if they refused to deliver them.

Union organiser Mike Treen sought to delay delivery of the circulars - entitled "Whose Country Is It Anyway" - after calls from several concerned posties. The union, representing about half of Auckland's 600 posties, said the material was "offensive and objectionable".

It said NZ Post had an obligation to ensure the circulars did not breach the Postal Services Act 1998, which prohibits posting of "an objectionable thing" or "indecent article".

Mr Treen said NZ Post's response was disappointing but Mr Shadbolt had opted not to deliver the circulars regardless. The union would not ask other posties to follow in his footsteps, given it was potentially a sackable action, but it would support those who did not want to deliver the circulars.

NZ Post spokesman Ian Long said he was unaware a postie had refused to deliver the circulars. Job loss was a "worst-case scenario", he said.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters yesterday threatened to prosecute if he discovered one case of a circular not being delivered.

He said Mr Treen, a long-time Alliance member, was "linked to the Labour Party" and was politicking on its behalf as a self-appointed arbiter of what New Zealanders received in their letterboxes.

A Human Rights Commission spokesman said the material was unlikely to be unlawful.

Disputed mail

NZ First claims which the union finds offensive:

* "We are being squeezed out of our own country."

* "Official papers show that many immigrants become burdens on the welfare state at the expense of the New Zealand taxpayer."

* "It is not in our interest for thousands of Third World immigrants to come here for a life on the welfare system, bringing all their friends and relatives with them."

* "We cannot absorb these numbers without serious social and cultural disruption."