‘‘Nail in coffin’’ for Rakaia

Rakaia Health, Photo and Post will close December 22.
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Rakaia Health, Photo and Post will close December 22.

Rakaia residents are fighting to retain their town’s sole pharmacy and post shop services.

Rakaia Health, Photo and Post will close December 22.

Rakaia Community Association chairman Neil Pluck said he was in discussions with two Ashburton pharmacies, in the hope they would consider a depot in the town to which they could deliver prescription medications two to three times per week.

‘‘We are wanting to avoid people having to travel to Rolleston and Ashburton,’’ Pluck said.

Rakaia Health, Photo and Post is operated by Leeston Pharmacy. Spokesperson Lynne Stevens said in a notice on the shop’s door the business was closing after having had to face ‘‘adverse financial factors’’ for some time.

‘‘Other options have been explored but are not viable due to legislative and safety requirements,’’ she said. Government decisions over the years had impacted the viability, including the Ministry of Health in 2010 removing the ability for depots such as Rakaia to sell cough and cold medicines, and in 2008 removing a rural subsidy.

Pluck said in addition to losing the pharmacy, the town was losing about 50 PO boxes based at the pharmacy. With the business closing, NZ Post would lose access to deliver mail to the PO boxes from within the shop.

A memo arrived informing PO box holders last month their boxes would be moving to the Ashburton box lobby.

‘‘We want to at least chat to them to see if they have considered it,’’ Pluck said.

‘‘It’s just another nail in the coffin of small town New Zealand in a way.’’