New Zealand Parking Association chairwoman Janice Burns
says enforcement can be a thankless job, but is one most
officers enjoy. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Dear John letters between lovers are generally
displeasing to the recipient.
Parking enforcement officers are familiar with a slightly
different, but equally disagreeable version of
Letters typically begin "Dear A.......", members of the New
Zealand Parking Association say.
About 70 enforcement officers, mostly from regional and
district councils, are in Dunedin for the association's 29th
annual conference - a three-day affair at the Southern Cross
Camaraderie was vital to those in a "thankless" job,
association chairwoman Janice Burns said.
"Nobody's going to say: 'Thank you very much, you're doing a
great job'. You have to be very thick-skinned," she said.
Ms Burns, Hamilton City Council's enforcement manager, said
officers were trained not to take abuse personally.
"The number of times I've been told to take a running jump,
or that my mother wasn't married to my father ... it can be a
very thankless task," she said.
But most officers loved their job, particularly when given
the chance to help people, she said.
"We are like walking encyclopedias, like the walking AA
(Automobile Association). We help people find their cars if
they can't remember where they parked, we get asked for
directions and bus times, help find lost children and elderly
people, and we get really good at changing tyres and helping
people into cars they've locked themselves out of."
Enforcement officers had heard every excuse in every
situation and always had good stories to tell, Ms Burns said.
"Someone will walk out of the mall with all their shopping
bags and say they just dashed in to take little Tommy to the
The "economic downturn" had made enforcement harder, as
people short of money typically did not license or warrant
vehicles and skimped on parking, she said.
Each annual conference included motivational speakers - this
year, Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt and Auckland comedian
Yesterday, association committee member Heather Miller
delivered a presentation on the history of number plates and
today there will be a parking enforcement photograph
competition before the association's annual meeting.