Class, democracy and post boxes in Porirua

PostBoxBy Martin Gregory

There is not a single post box in Cannons Creek. Amongst the suburbs that constitute the Eastern Ward of Porirua – Rānui, Cannons Creek, Waitangirua, Ascot Park and Aotea – there is no post office, or post shop within a private store, to serve a population of 20,000 residents. Unbelievably, there are only three post boxes to serve the whole of Eastern Porirua. All three are on private land and are not readily viewable from the street. The post box at the back of a Z petrol station must be Rānui’s best kept secret. I only found out about it by drilling down in New Zealand Post’s website.

The distribution of post boxes in Porirua reflects the class structure of the area. Compared to working-class Eastern Ward’s three, the affluent Northern Ward is served by ten post boxes (and a post office). The Western Ward holds the middle position socially and in postal services. New Zealand Post Ltd, a state-owned enterprise, operates on a commercial basis, not as the public service it should be. Before 1987, when a Labour government, to its shame, created this SOE, the New Zealand Post Office was government department headed by a minister.

New Zealand Post has refused to put a replacement post box on the street since a post shop within a Four Square closed in Cannons Creek. The withdrawal of postal services by New Zealand Post is a national trend. Commenting on the Cannons Creek situation, John Maynard, President of the Postal Workers Union of Aotearoa, told a local newspaper “What we’ve got is privatisation by stealth.” He said private companies like DX Mail will fill the vacuum left by New Zealand Post. This is undoubtedly National’s aim.

Most inhabitants of Eastern Porirua do not have a post box in walking distance, and all have to take a trip to the city centre for a post office. Not only is this an appalling lack of service, but there is an issue of democracy. Elections to local bodies are held by postal vote. It is hardly surprising that Eastern Porirua’s voter turnout at the last local elections in 2013 was only 33%. Since then Cannons Creek’s one post box has been closed. Until Porirua’s eastern suburbs have been provided with a reasonable number of post boxes, the validity of postal elections must be called into question. Post boxes may not be the whole answer to low participation in postal elections, but they would help. Besides democracy, the people of the eastern suburbs, who can ill-afford extra expense, should not have to catch a bus or drive to post a letter. The lack of postal services is one that shows the contempt of the ruling elite towards ordinary working people.

  • New Zealand Post must install post boxes at Cannons Creek and elsewhere throughout eastern Porirua
  • No more postal cutbacks leading to privatisation by stealth
  • Labour must pledge to abolish the post state-owned enterprise and re-establish New Zealand Post as a government public service
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