Veteran postie Kerry Wheeler found himself on the receiving
end of a special delivery yesterday.
As the Northeast Valley postman made his round he was greeted
by a flood of affection, decorated mailboxes and balloons to
acknowledge his 30 years on the route.
''All the balloons had special messages on them. There were
hundreds and hundreds of balloons,'' he said yesterday,
choked with emotion by the gesture.
''It was really nice, really beautiful. Today was very
special. It was amazing.''
For 30 years, Mr Wheeler has ridden his bike around Northeast
Valley delivering the mail, and yesterday was a chance for
the community to show its appreciation.
He had lived in Northeast Valley for 20 years and said the
community was special to him and its residents were his
''I'm well looked after here in the valley,'' Mr Wheeler, who
declined to give his age, said.
''I have had about 1000 hugs today. All the valley was really
nice and it was just wonderful.
''They always say to me `You're part of everyone's family'
and they are a big part of my family.''
He realised how special the community was when its residents
rallied around him following the death of his wife from
cancer 15 years ago.
Their support was something he would never forget, he said.
It was the community's strength and support, and also that of
the residents of neighbouring suburb Opoho, which helped him
to raise his then 4-year-old daughter Anita.
''They really were just magic,'' he said.
Generally, the expression was it takes a village to raise a
child, but in this case it took a valley, he said.
Remembering the community's support made yesterday even more
special and he had to ''be strong'' to hold back the tears
when greeted with their appreciation, he said.
The future of posties in New Zealand may hang in the balance,
but Mr Wheeler would like to continue delivering the mail in
Northeast Valley for years to come.
''I always knew when it got close to my 30 years, I was going
to make it. I have done my big goal and now I can take it one
day at a time and just enjoy what happens,'' he said.
And what will today bring? He will be back on his bike,
delivering the mail to Northeast Valley homes with the same
smile as he has for the past 30 years.