Postmistress signing off

Arrowtown Post and Telegraph Office postmistress Marilyn Everett ends more than two decades of service at the community hub with a public tea morning on Friday, 10am to noon. Photos by James Beech.
Arrowtown Post and Telegraph Office postmistress Marilyn Everett ends more than two decades of service at the community hub with a public tea morning on Friday, 10am to noon. Photos by James Beech.
Being a regular part of customers' lives is what Marilyn Everett says she will miss the most when she retires as postmistress of the historic Arrowtown Post and Telegraph Office on Friday after 23 years.

Mrs Everett, also a seamstress and co-founder of the Buckingham Belles, said she never would have believed her link with the post office would have lasted so long when she was first approached by New Zealand Post in 1987 to create Edwardian period clothes in honour of the renovation of the building, built in 1915.

The celebration won a tourism award a year later and the costumes are still used by staff of the Lakes District Museum, which took ownership of the post office and service when NZ Post withdrew in 1995.

The service has battled on ever since with Mrs Everett at the helm since 1991.

Postal services, including utility bill payments and car registration, were added to with the sale of gifts and stationary.

The post office serves more than 400 customers a day in summer and about 200 a day in the quieter seasons.

The Arrowtown Post and Telegraph Office.
The Arrowtown Post and Telegraph Office.
Addresses receiving mail have doubled to 800 residences and the number of post boxes trebled on Mrs Everett's watch.

Envelopes and parcels sorted by the team have increased because of the growing popularity of online shopping.

Generations have grown up around the post office.

Mothers tend their babies while catching up with the news.

Mrs Everett and team also serve as an early warning system and check the welfare of senior citizens if they don't make their customary visits to the post office.

''It's an end of an era,'' Mrs Everett said.

''It gets under your skin and I think it's the community more than anything. The people are amazing.

''If they hadn't saved [the post office] we wouldn't be here.''