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NZ Post's art collection for sale as head office shrinks

Tuesday 1st March 2016

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New Zealand Post Group, which is three years into a five-year transformation to shrink its business to keep pace with falling mail volumes, has put its art collection up for sale.

About 50 art works, including pieces by Gretchen Albrecht, John Pule, Fiona Pardington and Robyn Kahukiwa, will be sold through Wellington auction house Dunbar Sloane. The state-owned mail service hasn't added to its art collection, built up in the 1980s and 1990s, for several years. The sale won't include the Coast Watchers Memorial to those executed on the Gilbert Islands (Kiribati) during WWII.

"These are challenging times for New Zealand Post and we feel it is no longer appropriate for us to own an expensive art collection," a spokeswoman told BusinessDesk. "The refurbishment at NZ Post House in Wellington offered an opportunity to look again at the head office collection, which was built up over many decades."

Argosy Property owns NZ Post House, having acquired the building in a sale and lease back deal for $60 million in 2013. Last November Argosy said refurbishment of the building had slowed because NZ Post needed less floor space.

Last month NZ Post reported a 10 percent increase in first-half profit that reflected one-time gains from asset sales. Once those gains were excluded, earnings fell 14 percent. In November, NZ Post sold its outsourcing Converga division to Canon Australia for an undisclosed sum, which it said completed its strategy of selling non-core assets.

NZ Post's banking subsidiary, Kiwibank, accounted for the bulk of the state-owned enterprise's earnings.

The spokeswoman said the postal service is retaining historically important art, such as paintings of PostShops, and art that has been gifted to the business.

Dunbar Sloane's website shows works from the NZ Post collection including a Fiona Pardington photo, Huia Feather tu Rae, with an estimate of $10,000 to $20,000, and a Gretchen Albrecht work, Nomadic Geometrics, with a range of $18,000 to $26,000, will be included in its April 14 auction.

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