NZ Post reducing rural delivery

New Zealand Post is making further cuts to its delivery network.

It announced yesterday more rural routes would shift to five-day instead of six-day delivery from November.

After the cut, about a quarter of rural customers would be on five-day delivery, up from about 15% now.

Affected routes have not been confirmed. A New Zealand Post spokeswoman said the state-owned enterprise had proposed 22 routes in Otago and 33 in Southland would lose the Saturday delivery. Runs in other parts of the country were also affected.

''We're talking to our rural contractors before we finalise the changes and notify customers.''

Postal Workers Union spokesman John Maynard said the move was a further downgrading of New Zealand's postal network.

''For people who rely on the regular supply of stuff from the cities and the towns out to their rural areas, six days a week - including their newspaper - it's a very valuable service.''

The union, which does not represent rural delivery contractors, has fought the postal cuts, which include the move in urban areas to three-day delivery and the removal of post boxes.

''We're concerned that New Zealand Post has been ... steadily reducing its service, and this is another example of that,'' Mr Maynard said.

Berwick farmer and Dunedin City Council candidate Mike Lord had mixed feelings about the shift.

Mr Lord said he felt sorry for people who lived in the more isolated rural areas.

Postal changes in the past few years had affected the service as a whole.

''The whole postal service shake-up ... has made it more difficult. If I want to post a letter to someone in Mosgiel, it goes to Christchurch first and comes back.

''It's that crazy thing, you can send a postcard from here to Perth and it will arrive quicker sometimes than a letter sent to Mosgiel.

''It's not that the system is consistently bad, but you just don't know.''

Mr Lord said he believed the cuts provided an opening for new players in the industry.

However, he also felt there was an element of inevitability in the rural delivery cut because ''even old people'' now used the internet to pay bills and communicate with distant family members.

In a statement, New Zealand Post customer service delivery chief operating officer Mark Stewart said the state-owned enterprise did not have enough items in the network to sustain six-day delivery in some areas.

''We'll be notifying rural delivery customers affected by this change in the next few weeks.

''They'll continue to be able to send and receive parcels and letters Monday to Friday.''

eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

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