Official Guide to the Government Court: N.Z. Centennial Exhibition
Post and Telegraph Department
Post and Telegraph Department
The Post Office to-day is more than a Department of State. It is best described as a large-scale business corporation employing a permanent personnel of over 11,000, and having a branch in almost every city, town and village in the Dominion.
To most people, the "Post Office" is the post-office counter or the posting-box or perhaps the postman; but behind the post-office counter and the posting-box there is an organisation which works the clock round, keeping channels of communication open. How many people, when they post their letters, ring their friends or send their telegrams, give thought to the mobilisation of the agents necessary to ensure that the letters or telegrams are delivered, or that the telephone connections are properly established? And do they appreciate also the diverse nature of the Department's activities? It probably escapes their observation, for instance, that while postmen are performing their daily rounds in the cities and towns of the Dominion, rural mail carriers are providing a similar service to over 30,000 country households.
The Department's system of postal communication is over 100 years old. It is, in fact, the oldest of the three main services. Though there have been few changes in the actual facilities provided, changes in the modes of mail transport throughout the country have been astonishing—from native foot-messenger to horseback, to sledge and dray, to coach, to rail, to motor-car and to aeroplane. Thus, to-day, journeys which in the early days of colonization took almost three weeks on foot can now be accomplished by aeroplane In two or three hours—a wonderful triumph for science and invention.
The telephone service is so popular nowadays that reference to it seems almost superfluous. Scarcely five years after the telephone was patented it was introduced Snto New Zealand, the first exchange having 26 subscribers. The remarkable improvements effected in the technical apparatus, the improved quality of speech, the wide range of communication now offered, the many complementary services provided, such as the "person to person" call, the "appointment" call, and the "collect" call— all these are factors which have induced the present total of over 162,000 subscribers to avail themselves of telephone service.
The advantages of the telegraph service are well known to almost everyone, but not so well known is the radio-telegraph service, by means of which communication is maintained with ships and with many of the islands in the Pacific. Flashing out their messages at. regular intervals, and maintaining a continuous listening service for ships' distress calls, the radio-telegraph stations of New Zealand provide a sense of security not only to the passengers of ships in the Tasman and South Pacific but also to the many Island peoples.
"Money-order" and "Savings-bank" are almost household terms in connection with the Post Office. In regard to the former, the Department frequently emphasises the advisability of remittances by post being sent otherwise than by cash, page 59 even though the cash is sent in registered letters, and to this end it has provided two efficient methods of remitting—the money-order system, which is cheap, convenient and safe, and the postal-note system, used mainly for small amounts. Those who have had occasion to "telegraph" money appreciate the convenience of the service.
Identified with the Department since 1867 is the Post Office Savings-Bank, which, having nearly one million depositors, can claim that the frequently-applied term "The People's Bank" is not a misnomer. Popular features of the bank are the fact that the amount at credit earns interest, even though it is at call, and that repayment of deposits is State guaranteed. The "letter of credit" system of the Post Office Savings-Bank is a convenience for the travelling depositor requiring funds at one or more places in the Dominion.
Not every person who enters a Post Office nowadays does so on purely post and telegraph business. The registration and relicensing of motor vehicles and radio receiving sets, the registration of persons under the Social Security legislation, and the. collection of fees and the making of payments on behalf of many Government Departments have added very much to the work undertaken by the Post Office.
Truly, during business hours, the public foyers of post offices carry an endless flow of traffic.