To mark the 150th anniversary of New Caledonia’s postal service, OPT-NC is issuing a souvenir sheet of 4 postage stamps illustrating various means of postal delivery used over the years. New Caledonia’s very first post office opened in 1859 in the street now known as ‘rue de la République’. The harbour master was entrusted with running the new post office. The first postmen were sailors and soldiers on duty in Port-de-France, where they took delivery of letters and parcels carried on board ships entering the harbour. As the volume of mail grew, regular postal services were set up to link Port-de-France with other settlements, letters being delivered by Kanak ‘couriers’ on foot.
In 1880, thanks to the public transport service founded by Jean Vergès, known locally as the “patache à Vergès” (Vergès’ coach), postal deliveries were carried by mail coach, initially between Noumea and Païta and later on to Boulouparis. Postmen on horseback or on foot then carried the mail on to the various postal centres along the East and West Coasts. 1899 saw the inauguration of New Caledonia’s first motorised postal service between Noumea and Moindou. A mobile postal service was set up in 1965 in Lifou and in 1966 in the Main Island to bring all the amenities of a post office (postal deliveries, banking, sales of stamps, etc.) to outlying tribes and people living in remote areas. The OPT currently operates 54 mobile postal networks covering the whole of New Caledonia.