Post-box arsons put service at risk

Lake Hayes Estate Community Association secretary Barbara Smith says residents are at risk of losing their New Zealand Post service if arson attacks on the estate post box continue. Photo by James Beech.
Lake Hayes Estate Community Association secretary Barbara Smith says residents are at risk of losing their New Zealand Post service if arson attacks on the estate post box continue. Photo by James Beech.
Lake Hayes Estate residents fear they will lose their mail collection service if the community's only post box is set on fire for a third time.

Up to six items of mail were found to be destroyed when a New Zealand Post courier cleared the post box, on Hope Ave, near Nerin Sq, on Tuesday. A further 30 items were found deposited on top of the ashes, and were able to be mailed to the recipients.

The courier found the box had been the target of a second arson attack on Wednesday morning.

About 15 mail items were recovered and as many as 10 were destroyed. Of the remainder, four were partly damaged and NZ Post will attempt to contact the senders.

Two small parcels also showed damage and will be forwarded to the recipients with an explanatory letter.

Community association chairman Kevin Burdon said yesterday he was "ropeable" and association members were "devastated" to learn New Zealand Post had a "three strikes and you're out" policy when it came to wilfully-damaged post boxes.

Mr Burdon said association members sought to publicise the problem and they asked parents to supervise their children to make sure the post box was not vandalised again.

"We worked for 12 months to get it. There's more than 430 houses there and you'd have to drive to Frankton to post a letter otherwise," Mr Burdon said.

The $2000 box was installed by NZ Post in 2009 at the request of the association.

NZ Post spokesman Keith FitzPatrick, of Wellington, said yesterday the company would regret the removal of the collection service and box. However, it would not tolerate the wilful destruction of the public's mail, he added.

"It's an unfortunate case of one of our street boxes being the subject of two mindless attacks.

"We are saying to the community association, it's disappointing, but if it continues to be the target, we will remove it.

"The actions of a reckless individual, or individuals, are jeopardising the service."

Destroying personal mail was "despicable behaviour", Mr FitzPatrick said.

The only way customers could know if their mail was among the six items destroyed would be to contact the intended recipient.

NZ Post was aware Lake Hayes Estate was a growing community, he said.

Queenstown police will be advised and residents were urged to be vigilant and report suspicious activity to the police.

The Postal Services Act had provision for penalties. However, the general auspices of the Crimes Act would be appropriate and charges would be a matter for the police, Mr FitzPatrick said.