I was biking down Lincoln Road a few days ago, when I saw a postie crossing at an intersection in front of me. It got me thinking about NZ Post, and the seemingly terminal decline that once proud institution is in. The postie was heading across to a service station, where there is a bank of Post Office boxes. As mail delivery to everyone’s house address becomes prohibitively expensive, what if we all had to have a PO Box? What if that wasn’t a bad thing?
PO Box centres could be built into many of the new and rebuilt suburban retail centres; they could be made free-of-charge, but compulsory. They should be within comfortable walking distance of people’s homes. It could be a great way of bringing the community back to community shopping centres – for people to meet others in their neighbourhoods, to encourage them to pop down to the shops and get the mail and some milk from the local store, rather than the supermarket. If people didn’t have letterboxes, then we would cut down on circulars (and the tonnes of wasted paper they generate), and drunk teenagers can’t kick down a letterbox that you don’t have. It might also provide a cost-saving model for NZ Post that could be trialled in Christchurch, then rolled out across our other metro areas.