Home' Advocate Communications : Fiordland Advocate 23 January 2009 Contents 23 January, 2009 | Page 7
For 27 years mail delivery in Te Anau has been in the
hands of the same family. In all that time they can
recall only one day that the post didn’t get delivered.
Now posties Leanne and Toni Waiwiri have decided
it’s time to let someone else do the pedalling.
You see all sorts when you’re out and
about at the crack of dawn.
Leanne and Toni Waiwiri reckon they’ve
seen it all. Scantily dressed people
shuffling out to their mailboxes, people
skulking out of homes that aren’t their
own – “we used to call that the Winter
Olympics” – and cars parked in the wrong
street, occasionally with a body slumped
out of view until the traffic has passed.
The couple is intimately familiar with every
street in the town in many ways.
They don’t tell tales but they’ve certainly
had a few laughs.
Twenty-seven years ago Leanne moved
to Te Anau. Her father Ken Harvey was
the postmaster and that Christmas, after
finishing the sixth form, she started work
as a relief postie. Six months later the
regular postie left town and Leanne got
At that time there were 240
households in Te Anau and the
run took her from about 7.30am
until 10.30am on a Post Office
supplied bike that had no gears.
She loved the job and has
romantic memories of the
weather that “used to be reliable”,
recalling occasions when she
wore a bikini top in the hot
weather – “the good old days”
when the weather used to be so
good that you swam in the lake.
When husband Toni points out
that 17-year-olds still swim in the
lake, she laughs: “okay, it’s my
age. I just don’t remember it being
as bad as it is these days”.
Then she recalls the heavy
snowfalls that she used to plough
her way through. One time the
snow was so thick and icy that it
ABOVE: Te Anau postie Toni
Waiwiri in the town’s mail
room, sorting the post ready
LEFT: Leanne Waiwiri
resorted to an old pram one
winter when the snow was
too bad to deliver the mail by
bike. The reactions she got
were many and varied.
was impossible to ride her bike. So she
found an old pram, loaded it with mail and
doggedly pushed her way around town.
“Someone pulled up beside me and told
me what a terrible mother I was having a
new baby out in the snow.”
When they realised she was the postie
they drove off without another word.
Others recognised her, one thinking
the sight of the postie and her pram so
hilarious that they photographed her and
she woke the next morning to find her
picture on the front page of The Southland
After the birth of her first son she gave up
the pushbike for a motorscooter .
The difference it made? “I didn’t have to
have afternoon sleeps anymore”.
Kori is now 18 and Aidan is 15. She
worked as long as possible through both
pregnancies, with post office workers
who knew the run filling in while she took
About 15 years ago she became one of
the first posties in the country to go on to
a contract. It meant little change except
that she had to provide her own bike and
she became her own boss. That’s when it
became even more of a family affair, with
relatives pitching in when she was ill or on
holiday or just needed a hand.
About seven years ago she decided to go
for an indoor job so Toni took over the run.
The Te Anau postie run now includes
1150-odd households and takes about six
and-a-half hours a day. Some days Toni
returns to the sorting office up to six times to
reload his scooter with mail.
Highlights for Leanne have included watching
gardens take shape and change. For Toni it’s
been the occasional “natter at the box” with
residents and the odd offer of a cup of tea.
Toni’s most embarrassing moment? “Perving”
at a pretty woman on the street and becoming
so distracted that he crashed his motorbike in
front of her. His biggest bugbear? Vandals and
people who drop glass bottles on the streets.
Both have thoroughly enjoyed the work; the
fresh air and the good people with a friendly
word. On cold, miserable days, they say it’s
wonderful to know that people appreciate the
effort made to deliver the post every day.
Some go even further in expressing their
gratitude – “a lot of chocolates at Christmas
time”, Toni grins.
However, they said it would not have been
possible without the long term support of their
relief posties Sheree Heni, Lyn Lawrence and
Norm Mackie who’ve enabled them to take
the occasional holiday.
The Waiwiris have given three months’ notice
on their contract and New Zealand Post has
begun advertising for a replacement.
They say whoever takes it on will have tough
days but overall it’s a very rewarding job.
“It’s kind of stress free – no boss watching
over you. You get in and do the job and then
you’re basically free.”
Te Anau posties
Toni Waiwiri are
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