I love the icon too.
Now then, it doesn't affect me as I am (a) no longer in NZ (b) not an ex-Xtra customer but it astounds me that an ISP can take this view. Russell Brown's comments at http://publicaddress.net
and Bruce Simpson's at http://aardvark.co.nz
both tell the same story - 7 days notice rather than 30, the view that usenet is a complmentary addon rather than a core service. Amazing. There may not be many left, but there are people for whom usenet is far more important than www.
There are things my local supermarket sells to only a few people, but that doesn't mean that they should stop selling them. OK, not a brilliant analogy, because that happens too...nevertheless, there are shops that do sell what they don't.
Maybe you should switch to an ISP that does still offer usenet. Do other NZ ISPs still offer it and guarantee it? You'll see that advertising, I won't.
Finally, don't be fooled. It was *not* a free service. It was a service *included in the charge*. How much will your Xtra bill drop now that you're not getting as much service?
As for me, I found that comp.risks , rec.humor.funny and rec.humor.funny.reruns were essential reading while alt.support.marriage and alt.support.divorce were well worth looking round sometimes, even though only from a compare and contrast point of view. And nz.general was the finest cesspool of opinionated garbage I ever found.