The New Zealand Post Office (NZPO) and its forbears had a significant role in the establishment and provision of public communications in New Zealand. This section records the origins of the NZPO and how it evolved.

New Zealand Politics

In its early days New Zealand was a part of the Colony of New South Wales, Australia. Following the first signings of the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840 New Zealand's Lieutenant Governor Captain William Hobson declared British sovereignty over New Zealand. The British Government issued a charter which established New Zealand as a separate colony from New South Wales, effective from 1 July 1841 with Captain Hobson as Governor of New Zealand.

Colonial status resulted in a surge of settlers spread throughout the country. However, because of New Zealand's spread out nature and limited communications, there was a strong desire to establish a local government system. A law change in 1852 allowed the establishment of Provincial Government. This resulted in the country having ten provincial governments and a national government.

As the colony grew and its communications systems evolved, the Provinces became less isolated from each other. The Provincial Government system was abolished in 1876.

NZ Post Office Origins

During the 1830's early management of communications in New Zealand was handled by the Postmaster-General of New South Wales, the main focus being on postal services. In 1840 Captain Hobson took over that control and opened a Post Office at Kororareka. With the declaration of Colony status in 1841 a warrant was issued creating the Post Office in New Zealand, initially under British Post Office control. Colonial control was re-established in 1850.

The Local Posts Act of 1856 allowed Provincial Governments to set up Post Offices, mail services and communications systems with the national Government providing the Chief Post Office in each Province and backbone communications between provinces. In 1858 the Post Office Act repealed the Local Posts Act and established the Post Office as a separate government department under a Postmaster General.

Another early government creation was the Electric Telegraph Department whose control was placed with the Postmaster General, but as a separate department from the Post Office Department.

New Zealand Post and Telegraph and Later Years

In 1881 the Electric Telegraph Department was merged with the Post Office Department creating the 'New Zealand Post and Telegraph Department' (NZ P&T). The Department was renamed to 'New Zealand Post Office' (NZPO) in 1959. In 1987 The NZPO was split into three state owned enterprises providing Postal, Banking and Engineering services. The Engineering branch was named 'Telecom New Zealand' and became a publicly traded company in 1990. In 2015 the company re-branded to become 'Spark New Zealand Limited'.

Further Reading

New Zealand Post's 'History of New Zealand Post' records much of the early years of postal services.

Wikipedia's New Zealand Post Office provides a wider overview with details of all three branches of the Post Office (Postal, Banking and Engineering).