Topic: Urenui Post Office (Former), 24 Ngakoti Street (1930-31)

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Urenui Post Office (Former) 2019

2019 View: By Hamish Crimp

The first post office at Urenui was opened on the site of a military redoubt (former Pihanga pā) in May 1867 under the charge of Captain Thomas Good. However, this office only operated for a short period before closing on the 31st of December 1867, and it wasn’t until 1877 that the first permanent post office was established in Charles Rowe’s recently opened store at the south-western corner of Ngakoti and Nikorima Streets. Rowe remained postmaster until 1903, when owing to increased patronage, the first dedicated Urenui post office was erected on the site of present 4 Ngakoti Street.

On the night of March 6th 1930 a fire broke out in a nearby store occupied by Roy Fitzgerald and despite the best efforts of volunteers, the fire spread to the post office and the building was completely destroyed. Whilst the building was a complete loss, through the frantic efforts of local residents, post office records, valuable equipment such as the telephone exchange, and almost all of the postmaster's possessions were removed from the premises before the flames took hold.

Following the fire a temporary post office was hastily opened in premises on the opposite side of Ngakoti Street whilst arrangements were made for the erection of a new post office building. Later in 1930 it was decided to construct a new post office on a larger section situated further north along Ngakoti Street opposite the town hall; post office records indicate that Section 73 of Urenui Township was purchased by the Department for this purpose during 1930. The successful tenderer for the construction of the new office was builder George MacIntosh Bennett of New Plymouth, with the construction cost being £1518.

Construction commenced on the 20th of November 1930, however, owing to unfavourable weather, the building was not completed until the 10th of March 1931. The new post office was officially opened by the Postmaster General, the Hon. J. B. Donald, on the afternoon of Tuesday 26th May 1931 at a ceremony organised by local residents.

The Urenui post office operated from this building until its closure on Friday 30th June 1989. It seems the impetus for the closure was upcoming government deregulation of the postal service, whereby the market was being opened up to private competitors. A postal service centre offering a smaller range of services was set up in the Urenui Garage following the post offices closure.

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Urenui Post Office (Former), 24 Ngakoti Street (1930-31)