MAIL SCANDAL: Queenstown cancer victim misses out on deathbed letter

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A Fernhill resident who lost her husband to cancer in May has highlighted the emotional cost of Queenstown’s stolen mail. 

Richards Park Lane’s Shirley Blick believes husband Rudd missed out on sympathy letters from friends during his 18-month illness. 

“I know of one letter from a friend’s daughter that my husband would have loved to have read before he died, which is still missing in action,” Blick says. 

“At the time this particular letter went missing we were all very vulnerable and something that could have been very special didn’t happen. 

“It was unexpected. We were very close with the family, they now live in Nelson, and she wrote to say how much Rudd had played a part in her life. It was quite lovely but all spoilt.” 

Hundreds of Queenstown residents expect to discover next week the extended impact of having tens of thousands of pieces of mail allegedly stolen

NZ Post confirmed its team should be able to deliver all the unopened mail found stashed at a postie’s home and an Arrowtown storage unit – that’s 99 per cent of 17,000 letters and parcels. The opened items are being kept for further investigation. 

For some the prospect of unpaid bills, potential unpaid parking and speeding fines, and late credit card payments is daunting. 

But for many, it’s the personal items that caused the greatest heartache. 

“It’s the sympathy and condolence cards you might have missed that you think of,” Blick says. 

“Then you start thinking about all the other people that have been impacted – the good times as well like weddings they missed. 

“Sure rates notices are a huge thing but there is an emotional cost too of not receiving mail. It can be joy you miss out on.” 

Fernhill, Sunshine Bay, Arrowtown and Lake Hayes Estate residents are all affected. Letters found date back to May 2011. 

A 32-year-old woman postie was arrested two weeks ago and has interim name suppression until her first court date on December 3. She was charged with theft. About 17,000 pieces of mail were allegedly stolen during an 18-month period. 

NZ Post staff have encouraged Queenstowners missing mail to contact 0800 501501. 

“When I complained originally the 0800 number just gives you the brush-off,” Blick says. 

“They need some PR skills because they were terribly defensive. They say it’s children pinching out of mailboxes but in our area that doesn’t happen. 

“The ladies here in the Post Office said I could fill out a missing mail form – but if you’ve seen it you wouldn’t bother because it’s so long and complicated. 

“They’re saying they’re not having many complaints but the complaints procedure is too difficult.” 

NZ Post heartlands manager Dean Horsup apologised to Queenstowners and says the mail will be delivered with letters of explanation. 

“We’re as disappointed as anybody that one of our Queenstown staff has let not just the Queenstown team down but also the country,” Horsup says. 

“Obviously the delay for us to actually get on top of it is disappointing and we’re looking at our own systems to 
see what went wrong and whether we could have done anything better.”