Dunedin community returns postal plan to sender

The community meeting in Karitane on Tuesday night (Newshub.)
The community meeting in Karitane on Tuesday night (Newshub.)

A small seaside village fighting to keep their old-fashioned mail system has convinced New Zealand Post to put its plans for rural delivery on hold.

Around 100 residents of Dunedin's Karitane braved the chill last night to tell two representatives from NZ Post there's nothing wrong with the local store's counter mail service, and no good reason to change it.

They argue the little shop is somewhere to meet and chat in a world where communities are becoming increasingly disconnected.

"The social aspect of keeping the community together, somewhere to meet … it's like our version of the water cooler, that little shop where we pick up our mail," community meeting organiser Geoff Lyell says.

NZ Post's decision to move Karitane to rural delivery - requiring them to put up mail boxes - followed instances of mail not arriving, after sorting was moved from Dunedin to Christchurch.

Karitane is one of the last areas still using the old system, where the words 'counter delivery' and the name of the shop must be on the address – or without human intervention, the letter may be rejected.

One resident suggested Otago University IT students could come up with a solution, but Geoff Lyell thinks it should be a relatively easy fix.

"It's how you programme [the NZ Post software]… we send men to the moon, I'm sure we can have a little bit of fuzzy logic that can allow you to have your own street address as well," he says.

"All we want is our street address, care of the shop."

NZ Post says going onto rural delivery would mean their addresses would be registered in its database as valid delivery points, which would help fix the return to sender problem.

"The problem isn't our technology, it's that their addresses aren't registered, so some letters are missed by our machines and by people doing manual sorting," regional service delivery manager Murray Rei said.

However, after Tuesday night's meeting, New Zealand Post has agreed to a reprieve.

"We agreed that counter delivery would continue as it is until November and that discussions would take place with local representatives on delivery options for Karitane," says Mr Rei.

Other issues raised are the security of having mail sent to the shop, and the impracticality of post boxes at the edges streets lined with cars and boats.

"I think last night was great because we had a whole bunch of little individual voices in the wilderness screaming for attention …. And last night we came together and roared, and they listened," Mr Lyell says.