Read on, you won’t believe this but it’s 100% true!!

The days when the ‘postie’ cycled along the street with a bulging canvas bag attached to the handlebars is fast fading into history. I can remember as a young lad waiting for mail from my various overseas pen friends.  I would often stand at the gate and eagerly watch the progress of the sturdy bike as it made its way from letterbox to letterbox, getting ever closer to my impatient hands.

I would grab the envelope and immediately admire the three or four large, colourful stamps carefully chosen by my overseas friends in Austria, Poland and East Germany. I liked to have pen friends in non English speaking places because their fractured English fascinated me!  It didn’t dawn on me that they were at least making the effort to communicate in my language.


After trying to understand the letter, I would carefully peel the stamps from the envelope and add them to my stamp book then take the collection to school to proudly show the latest additions to my class mates. A couple of times, the teacher even devised classes around my stamps. It was an easy way to create a geography lesson based on the countries my stamps represented. All gone now! Emails might be instant but the pleasure of ripping open an envelope to read a letter are sadly over for many of us.


New Zealand Post recently cut back mail deliveries from daily to three times a week, a direct result of declining numbers of letters being sent ‘snail mail’. Most people haven’t noticed the reduction in postal deliveries unless they are waiting for a letter which now takes a day or so extra to be delivered. However, rural deliveries are still an important service for the 224,000 people living in country areas with little urban influence. These people still rely heavily on the delivery of  physical mail for their supplies and equipment etc.


The postal staff at a post office in Gisborne, a small city on the North Island’s east coast, have gone out of their way to deliver a very unusual letter. In fact, the address has hit the headlines and is the reason for this blog. When the mail sorters came across a letter for a ‘Scott from Scotland’, they had to put their heads together. They shared their local knowledge in the hope they could find the particular man mentioned with the amazing description written exactly as presented here:

“Scott, from Scotland … aged about 60/70?? … corner of Tiniroto Road (almost). By a bridge. Has a Japanese wife– who may be older but looks about 20 … also has a daughter, about 3. Loves history …Good sense of humour… tells a good tale … Rural delivery area, sort of south east of Gisborne.”

letterPhoto by Paul Rickard

After carefully analysing the rambling description on the envelope, the staff at the Gisborne post office decided the recipient was Scott O’Brien, one of the 2,180 inhabitants living in the sprawling, lake covered, rural area of Tiniroto, 60 kilometres away. Local newspaper reporters did their own research and discovered the letter had been sent by George MacLachlan. It turned out George wanted to catch up with Scott after having a chance conversation with him beside his letterbox while he was delivering phone books around Tiniroto. “The dog barked at him when he pulled up the drive and I went out to see what it was. We had a good chat for about half an hour and then off he went. The next I heard from him was this letter and it’s amazing it arrived.” a stunned Scott told a reporter.

Tiniroto District

Tiniroto District

Scott is keen to meet up with George when he returns to the district next year to deliver new phone books. He has also expressed his admiration for the New Zealand Postal Service in locating him with the help of the quirky address.

PS: Scott hasn’t revealed the content of his now famous letter.

PPS:  George has kept his personal details private too…….cute story though!!

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