Penalty payments on rates bills will be waived by the
Queenstown Lakes District Council for ratepayers in the
Fernhill area who did not receive their bills because they
were allegedly stolen by a postal worker.
A noticeable number of ratepayers missed their rates payments
this year and the QLDC said yesterday it would deal with
those people on a case-by-case basis to ensure they were not
Queenstown police arrested a 32-year-old postie on Friday for
the alleged theft of thousands of New Zealand Post packages
and envelopes over the past two years.
The woman, who was contracted by New Zealand Post, has now
lost her job and will appear in the Queenstown District Court
on Monday charged with theft by a person in a special
relationship. This carries a maximum penalty of seven years'
QLDC media communications manager Meaghan Miller said
yesterday the council sympathised with those affected by the
missing mail and would deal with each ratepayer on a
"We had noticed a pattern in payments of ratepayers from
Fernhill and Sunshine Bay.
"These people were getting in touch saying they hadn't
received their rates [bills]."
The council reported this to New Zealand Post, which said it
had dealt with "hundreds of complaints" over the two-year
period the thefts had allegedly occurred.
The council's usual procedure for following up on a bill was
a letter and then a phone call.
While there was a noticeable gap in payments from the
Fernhill area, most ratepayers knew when their rates were due
and would often come in to the office and ask where their
bill had got to, Ms Miller said.
"We have a lot of sympathy for these people. It is more than
a frustrating and an unpleasant offence."
Fernhill and Sunshine Bay Residents Association chairman
Robert Freer commended the council for its handling of the
Mr Freer had had bills go missing in the past year, but had
followed them up and paid through internet banking.
"I just thought, 'Oh well, it's got lost in the mail.' I
didn't think anyone would have flogged them."
He said he did not hold New Zealand Post responsible for one
employee's actions even though it had taken two years to
investigate the issue, and he called for reparation from the
woman if she was found guilty.
It is the second such incident in New Zealand in recent
months. On September 30, a 38-year-old Auckland woman
admitted to burying 28,000 pieces of mail in her garden over
a three-year period.
The case was adjourned to December 18.