Migrant communities living in New Zealand are in for a change in how they send letters overseas, come October.
Government-owned postal service, New Zealand Post, has announced the end of an era for a traditional way of sending letters.
International Economy letters will no longer be available for letters from October 1 this year.
The volumes of letters being sent by that method have fallen so low that for letters it is no longer economically viable, says a statement from New Zealand Post.
Customers will still be able to send parcels by the International Economy service. However, the International Economy Courier service reaches 25 countries, and from October that will rise to 32 with the addition of Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Croatia, Greece, Hungary and Portugal.
Customers will still have the option of sending parcels to any destination worldwide by the faster International Express Courier service.
A revised pricing structure for international parcels will be introduced from 1 October to support these changes, and to reflect the cost of freighting goods internationally. Details of the new pricing can be seen on the New Zealand Post website.
The cost of sending letters or cards internationally via the International Air mail service will remain unchanged.
“The volume of letters being sent ‘International Economy’ has reduced significantly, and is now only a fraction of what it was,” New Zealand Post spokesman Michael Tull says.
New Zealand is home to a large number of migrant communities, especially Asian communities which grew the fastest between 2001 and 2006, increasing from 238,176 people in 2001 to reach 354,552 people in 2006 (an increase of almost 50 percent). Similarly, Pacific peoples ethnic group had the second-largest increase from the 2001 Census, up 14.7 percent to total 265,974 people. The 2010 census was cancelled due to the Christchurch earthquake.
These ethnic groups have strong ties with their countries of birth and have to rely on New Zealand Post to send letters and documents to their family and friends.
The new system will result in expensive but faster delivery.
International Economy letters generally arrive between 2 weeks and 5 weeks after being sent. An “International Air” letter will generally arrive between 3 days and 2 weeks after being sent.
“Given the relatively small price differential between these two sending methods, a vast majority of people sending letters overseas are already opting for ‘International Air’,” says Mr Tull.
“In terms of cost – sending a typical card or letter to Fiji currently costs $1.90 and that price will remain unchanged after 1 October.
“For the other destinations (Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India), the cost to send an ‘International Economy’ letter (delivered in 2 weeks to 5 weeks) is currently $1.90. From 1 October all such letters will be sent by ‘International Air’ at a cost of $2.40, with delivery occurring between 3 days and two weeks later.
“So the minimum postage to send a typical letter or card to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or Malaysia will be fifty cents higher from 1 October, but this balances against the fact the letter or card will be delivered by ‘International Air’ – so will generally get to its destination much more quickly,” says Mr Tull.
Most adversely affected people by this decision are the elderly of any community, says Verpal Singh, Chairman at The Sikh Centre.
“Migrants, especially from my community, tend to rely on emails/social networking sites and weekly/periodic phone calls. Most use NZ Post services when they have to send a parcel.
“It is only a small percentage of elderly population who use emails and even smaller percentage who use social networking sites.
“They still like to send (and receive) birthday and anniversary cards and letters.
“With modern day families dispersed all around the globe, and limited means available to the elderly, rising cost of posting a letter might put further stress on them in these tough economic times.
“Perhaps a solution for this is to connect postage rates (like public transport rates, etc.) to the SuperGold Card,” says Mr Singh.
More details about the changes.