Council Submission Brings Action

Friday 26 April 2013

NZ Post is proposing to reduce its mail service in response to decreased demand, and recently called for submissions on its proposal.

Hurunui District Council’s submission accepted many of the issues NZ Post raised, but alerted them to some potential unintended consequences that would result for rural folk if the proposal went ahead in its current form.

The Council pointed out that the main reason for the reduction in mail services is due to technology – broadband, cell phones and the ability to do an increasing number of functions electronically (automatic payments, instant messaging through Facebook, Twitter and, on line applications, purchase goods and services, etc). The Hurunui district is a very large geographical area with a small population. This presents distance and technology challenges as there are many areas where there is no broadband or cell phone coverage. The Council is concerned that the communities from these areas will ‘lose out’ if their mail service reduces, particularly when it is unclear when broadband and cell phone coverage will become available to them.

In addition to the mail, the Council also pointed out that rural delivery contractors also deliver the daily newspaper and a range of other products to households such as, machinery parts to farms, courier items, milk, medical supplies, community notices, etc. The Council expressed its concern that if the mail is reduced, how will these people get their daily newspaper and other deliveries?

The Council submitted that over the years, rural communities have seen a reduction in services, and that a reduced mail and postal service could be another erosion of an essential service, particularly one that can further exacerbate feelings of isolation and safety. For example, the daily mail delivery for many people is a part of their routine and particularly for older people this relieves a sense of isolation.

Currently rural posties are able to maintain viable businesses through the range of goods they deliver. The Council is concerned that a reduction in mail delivery could mean that rural delivery contractors are unable to continue with their businesses.

The Council urged NZ Post to give consideration to those who are still reliant on a daily delivery service and to consider what alternatives there might be to ensure that rural delivery remains a viable service.

NZ Post were very impressed with Hurunui District Council’s submission and came to their monthly meeting this week to ask if it would be involved in a working party to find a solution with other key parties such as Federated Farmers, Rural Women, rural posties, etc. The Council accepted the offer to advocate for rural communities.

A copy of the Council’s submission is available from hurunui.govt.nz