“We had a little dream and it became a big dream,” says Karen Summerhays, who helped mastermind the bold business initiative to stop a crucial public service disappearing off main street in Te Puke.
“And now that dream is happening.”
Because when the Post Office indicated it might pull out of the rural town, Karen and her colleagues set up a trust and set about buying those services. “Six women have put hundreds and hundreds of hours into this. A mammoth effort to get us where we needed to be in time to do this transaction – all the background, planning and budgeting. It’s been a continuous journey for 18 months.”
And at 9am sharp on October 7 when the post office in Te Puke throws open its doors, those licking the stamps and offering full postal and bill pay services will have a new boss, a new operator – Te Puke Centre Ltd, a subsidiary company of the charitable trust behind the PO enterprise. Of the people, by the people and for the people.
For 125 years there have been Post Office services at that Jellicoe Street site – not the same building, but on the same site. And it’s all set to continue.
“Very exciting,” says Monique Lints, trustee and one of four directors of the new company. “It’s been a huge voluntary effort to get this across the line.” And a milestone for the people of Te Puke who showed faith and contributed to a crowd fund that underwrote the scheme.
The PO deal was prioritised to meet tight deadlines and ensure largely uninterrupted post services to the public. But there’s still some way to go to achieve the trust’s grand vision for an information and visitors centre to be developed as finance allows over the next year.
“The big refit, the big kahuna will cost $450,000 to $500,000 and include offices, shared community workspace, board room, meeting room, state-of-the-art electronics and digital devices.” A one-stop shop to find anything and everything when arriving in Te Puke, a big welcoming and functional front door.
“And there will be a host of organisations, businesses and agencies who won’t have a fulltime presence in Te Puke but will need somewhere to operate from whenever they come to town,” says Karen. A number of organisations have already indicated their interest in using the centre as their Te Puke base.
To make contact, message: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Karen on: 021 0437858.