Half a century delivering your messages

FIFTY YEARS ON THE JOB: Douglas (Dougie) Coulter prepares for his postal round with his delivery vehicle of choice, a 110cc motorcycle. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell

DOUGLAS Coulter celebrated 50 years at NZ Post this week, making him the longest-serving staff member at NZ Post Gisborne.

Known by his colleagues as Dougie, he has seen a lot of change in his long delivery career.

He started out as a telegram boy when he began as a school leaver in 1967, then moved into post delivery three years later. He has continued to do that job for the past 47 years.

He has gone from delivering mail on an English Federal bicycle for 15 to 20 years, with mail carried on the front handlebars in leather satchels, to being upgraded to a three-speed then a five-speed bike. Now he prefers to deliver mail from his 110cc motorcycle.

“I’ve trained in the new (electric) Paxsters but still prefer my motorbike,” he said.

When he started, he would pick up telegrams and travel by bike to hand-deliver them across Gisborne.

Back then the Post Office was situated in Customhouse Street.

It was then a government department that was established in the 20th century with 1700 branches around New Zealand.

After the 1966 earthquake, they moved to work out of the Army Hall, which was converted into a mail sorting centre.

In June 1975 they moved into the Grey Street building, where they remain today.

Older people still writing letters

Apart from changes in locations and vehicles, he has witnessed a decrease in the volume of mail and has noticed the older generation still prefer to use the postal service.

“One thing I’ve seen is that older people still write letters. I’ve noticed that the people living in places like Kiri Te Kanawa Retirement Village and Dunblane have stayed with post. Younger people are into the quick and easy way of doing things.”

At the end of July, NZ Post will merge with Courier Post, a merger caused by declining mail volumes. Today approximately one million fewer items of mail are delivered weekly, but parcel deliveries have increased.

“We will take part of their product, that’s why we got these new toys. It will mean we will deliver the smaller parcels. They’ve put the posties and couriers together because they don’t want two people going down the same street. Now it’s easier to get all the mail, including parcels, into the Paxster.”

Both the variety in his job and the team he works with have kept him in the job for so long.

“It’s a different job every day, it’s not the same thing. You meet different people and go out in different weather, and Gisborne is just an awesome place.

The team here is pretty awesome. Part of your family after that long. If you’re with people for six or seven hours a day, they do become like family.”

A highlight was when he delivered mail during Cyclone Bola in 1988, when Gisborne experienced a severe storm and devastating flooding.

“That was interesting, putting mail in the front of letter boxes, then looking back only to see the water rising and the mail box slowly disappearing. It was a challenge.”

Mr Coulter’s 50-year anniversary on Monday was marked by a morning tea put on by his NZ Post family. He was presented with a 50th anniversary plaque and a gift card from the company.

“I was given a lovely watch, a greenstone and a new golf cap by my workmates which, I hope, will improve my handicap.”

But he has no desire to hang up his mail bag just yet.

DOUGLAS Coulter celebrated 50 years at NZ Post this week, making him the longest-serving staff member at NZ Post Gisborne.

Known by his colleagues as Dougie, he has seen a lot of change in his long delivery career.

He started out as a telegram boy when he began as a school leaver in 1967, then moved into post delivery three years later. He has continued to do that job for the past 47 years.

He has gone from delivering mail on an English Federal bicycle for 15 to 20 years, with mail carried on the front handlebars in leather satchels, to being upgraded to a three-speed then a five-speed bike. Now he prefers to deliver mail from his 110cc motorcycle.

“I’ve trained in the new (electric) Paxsters but still prefer my motorbike,” he said.

When he started, he would pick up telegrams and travel by bike to hand-deliver them across Gisborne.

Back then the Post Office was situated in Customhouse Street.

It was then a government department that was established in the 20th century with 1700 branches around New Zealand.

After the 1966 earthquake, they moved to work out of the Army Hall, which was converted into a mail sorting centre.

In June 1975 they moved into the Grey Street building, where they remain today.

Older people still writing letters

Apart from changes in locations and vehicles, he has witnessed a decrease in the volume of mail and has noticed the older generation still prefer to use the postal service.

“One thing I’ve seen is that older people still write letters. I’ve noticed that the people living in places like Kiri Te Kanawa Retirement Village and Dunblane have stayed with post. Younger people are into the quick and easy way of doing things.”

At the end of July, NZ Post will merge with Courier Post, a merger caused by declining mail volumes. Today approximately one million fewer items of mail are delivered weekly, but parcel deliveries have increased.

“We will take part of their product, that’s why we got these new toys. It will mean we will deliver the smaller parcels. They’ve put the posties and couriers together because they don’t want two people going down the same street. Now it’s easier to get all the mail, including parcels, into the Paxster.”

Both the variety in his job and the team he works with have kept him in the job for so long.

“It’s a different job every day, it’s not the same thing. You meet different people and go out in different weather, and Gisborne is just an awesome place.

The team here is pretty awesome. Part of your family after that long. If you’re with people for six or seven hours a day, they do become like family.”

A highlight was when he delivered mail during Cyclone Bola in 1988, when Gisborne experienced a severe storm and devastating flooding.

“That was interesting, putting mail in the front of letter boxes, then looking back only to see the water rising and the mail box slowly disappearing. It was a challenge.”

Mr Coulter’s 50-year anniversary on Monday was marked by a morning tea put on by his NZ Post family. He was presented with a 50th anniversary plaque and a gift card from the company.

“I was given a lovely watch, a greenstone and a new golf cap by my workmates which, I hope, will improve my handicap.”

But he has no desire to hang up his mail bag just yet.

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