New Zealand’s Mail
December 25, 2018
Government constantly gives itself credit for things it was barely involved with or actively impeded. Statist history will assert that the New Zealand postal system began in March 1840 when, as an after thought, the Hobson Gang tasked one of its clerical underlings with the job. On the contrary, a private system of letter exchange was well up and running all the while. Sealing and whaling boats carried ship mail internationally to and from New Zealand using a sort of trust system. The first known letter from New Zealand to England was sent in 1815.¹
The system private Kiwis formed for themselves also included overland delivery, often a Maori runner. The Fencibles at Howick had a man named Ngamapu between 1849 to 1857 who ran barefoot to Auckland and back twice a week. Howick Historic village has a replica of his old shack you can visit today. In 1855 The State came up with the fist official stamps then followed up by having the Provinces create their own Official post networks with a Chief Post Office under control of the Capital. This done, in 1858, Central Government proceeded to nationalise the resulting network into their own control as a government department. Evil.
By c.1900 young girls were making the mail run if The New Adventures of Black Beauty (1990) are to be believed. Brilliant show, so I’m willing to go with that premise.
Apart from the revenue gained by capturing this means of taxing communications, The State was also seizing a presence in the social life of people. By taking over the postal system and giving itself the power to abolish competition The Sate now had a branch office in every town and village. Post Offices have always been a hub of New Zealand life and their social interactions and this could not go unsupervised…
“The post office is the centre of Te Puke,” Wotten says. “You can go there any time and see people you know. All the fundraising for town is done outside of it. We have a large population of seasonal workers who rely on it.”
“We had an old lady, about 80 years old, who said going to the post office was her big outing,” Summerhays said. “She would head out, pay her bills, and catch up with her friends down at the post office.” – Stuff, 23/12/2018
This NZ Post logo dates from 1975² by which time State Post Offices were used to control the mail, telephones, and even their own banking services. Then, in 1988, Labour 4.0 decided to close rural post offices en mass. We can accept that they struck out as viable businesses as little towns withered in Spenglerian fashion…
“Long ago the country bore the country-town and nourished it with her best blood. Now the giant city sucks the country dry, insatiably and incessantly demanding and devouring…”- Oswald Spengler
However, they were still going strong and high in value as the locus of social contact. Closing the posty was also amputating social fabric!
“Then, in 1988, the government closed the rural post offices. The shop continued to issue the mail to those not on rural delivery and sell stamps, as a service, but the residents needed to go elsewhere to do their banking. Pension day was no longer a time for retired people to meet and chat at the post office.”- Ref. p62 Orere, The Story of a Small Community (2007)
As seen here, little Waipu’s problem solving culture revolved around protest and tantrum. They lost their post office. Many villages responded that way. Others seem to have just sighed with resignation to what they could not control.
When NZ Post abandoned them, a small town took a leap unto the unknown- ibid
It’s pretty great to see Te Puke people using active initiative to solve their problems rather than simply petitioning or moaning for gummint to do it for them. The trouble will be, as always, that whatever free people create to be of value and community to themselves The State will come along and appropriate and administrate.