with Don Fraser
Fraser Farm Finance
I was lucky enough to spend a day with owner Ross Brown. He and wife Kay have owned their business – delivering mail on RD4 Waipukurau – for 20 years. They travel 250km daily –half on seal and half on metal – that is an average of 68,000km annually, or 1.6 million kilometres in the two decades they’ve been delivering mail.
There are about 120 mailboxes, some nice plastic and many old wooden boxes with slide bolts to hold them shut.
Their current vehicle is a new Ford Escape but Ross does enjoy a day in their old Skoda Yeti, which has done 320,000km and is still in great order. The only maintenance it has received is a new radiator at 300,000km, brake pads regularly and new ball joints. Tyres are standard but slightly wider, which last only 25,000km – so that’s nearly three sets of tyres a year. Ross fills the vehicle with diesel every second day. Their contract is with NZ Post, and is a very happy one.
Our Yeti day started at 6.30am when we travelled to the depot in Waipukurau. We sorted their mail with the other mail run people. Yes, it goes to RD8. The parcels are scanned into the Yeti with the back seats removed. We get the mail, load in the farming papers, along with the Dominion and Hawke’s Bay Today papers, boxes of wine, wool packs, ear tags, prescription glasses from Spec Savers, boxes of clothes and stuff bought on the internet and there is barely room for Ross and I.
We drive past the vet shop to see if there is any drench to pick up, past the medical centre for prescriptions and it is still only about 8am. We then head to Ross’ cheeky barista for his regular coffee, and we are off!
Ross wastes no time in his small, roomy and highly efficient SUV. It is amazing frankly and very fit for purpose. He drives quickly and relentlessly, but very safely.
Papers go into mailboxes; boxes and wool packs and drench to the woolshed; and personal stuff goes to people’s back doors with a very cheery ‘hello’.
Ross is an ex-detective and has a razor-sharp mind. He remembers everybody, who their family are and how much land they own or have bought or sold – he would make a great rural land agent!
Next stop, we pick up meals on wheels from a farmer’s wife; and four stops on, we pull up at the home of a 94-year-old lonely farmer, checks that he is up and about and deliver his lunch for the day.
And on we go, whizzing around the rural areas. Next stop is Charlie’s where the jug is boiling, and a daily cuppa tea is served. The conversation quickly turns to rural banking, price of beef and the weather, and we are off again. Out to the coastal community of Porangahau where we stop for a lunch of wraps stuffed with last night’s sausage, tomato, cheese with sauce; some fruit; and a drink of water eaten on a seat overlooking the sea. Then we are off again zipping through the farming areas with stories about the farmers and stations out here and their owners.
Accidents – Ross has had two in 20 years and neither of them were his fault. One where a farmer charged out of his gate to get the mail. Ross was parked at the mailbox; the farmer did not look, and he drove straight into him. The second was when a farmer and his wife came around a shingle bend in the middle of the road and Ross took to the undergrowth to avoid a head-on.
So, it is back to the depot to drop the inwards mail, a quick check and we are done by 3.30pm. A quiet day he tells me!
My footnote from this amazing day is that these rural mail drivers are unsung heroes who provide a remarkable service to the rural sector and connect the rural farmers to society. Thanks Ross, for an insight into your daily life and the wisdom that you share to the RD4 Waipukurau rural community.
Disclaimer – these are the opinions of Don Fraser of Fraser Farm Finance. Any decisions made should be not be based on this article alone and appropriate professional assistance should be sought. Don Fraser is principal of Fraser Farm Finance and a consultant to the farming industry.