Rural postie Michael Blank featured in the latest Home Range magazine.
The 24-page, full colour publication is packed full of local stories from Gordonton, Puketaha, Orini and Horsham Downs and put together with love by Number 8 Network. If you didn’t see the magazine or would like a link to the digital editon, click here.
RD1 Taupiri – meet your postie, Michael Blank – Blankie to those who know him.
And be nice to the guy who delivers your letters and parcels – he’s been up since 3am.
After nine years milking cows in Dannevirke, and more recently the Waikato, Michael wanted a change. “Some years with the payout, it was pretty tough – Rachel my, wife, had to go back to work as well. We were milking, feeding calves, trying to look after two boys – we’d had enough.”
In January the RD1 Taupiri round came up, and it was a way to remain self-employed, make a living and spend more time with sons Joseph, 10, and Ciaran, 8.
“Yes, I still have early starts but I finish early and can pick them up from school at 2.30. As sharemilkers we were moving around all the time, so for my oldest this is his fourth school.”
Both boys go to Orini Combined School and are loving it. “They’re fitting in really well.”
Home is in Te Hoe, with 1.5 hectares. “We’ve kept our friendly cow, Caramel, from the last job, and the other one, Princess, is being milked by my in-laws in Orini. They were my boys’ favourites.”
He finished farming in May and took over the round on June 21.
Michael’s day starts at 3am and after a quick breakfast he’s in Ngaruawahia just before 4.30am to pick up the day’s newspapers, mail and parcels from the NZ Post depot.
These all have to be sorted – “I try to be organised and follow a spreadsheet so that at the start of each road I know what parcels have got to be delivered.”
By 6am he’s on the road.
“I’ve got close to 600 boxholders so it’s quite a big run, but I often stop on Ballard Rd, which is half way, and have a rest. If I need to, I’ll shoot down Peach Rd and grab a coffee and something to eat at the Firepot Cafe or the Bakehouse.”
He’s slowly getting to know people on his route. “I can’t spend too long but you say hello, ask how their day’s going. It’s good to talk to dairy farmers —but it’s a speedy chat, I have to keep going.”
Every day he travels 143km and says one of the top skills, after being well organised, is concentration.
“It’s a lot of driving and you have to keep your wits about you. And have plenty of common sense, too.”
While there is not as much letter-writing these days, parcels have picked up with the internet. “Most days the van is pretty chocka.”
He’s loving it and not missing milking at all. There’s time to throw a rugby ball around with the kids, fit in a bit of rugby training and live a good life in the country.
“You work hard but the opportunities are there. You have to do your homework, and the runs don’t come up that often, but it’s a good occupation.”
To make life easier for your rural postie:
• If it gets a bit muddy in front of the letterbox, pop some metal down
• If you have a dog, try to make sure it’s restrained
• Smile and say hi and let them get on with their work