Luxury car business gets push from wharf

By Michele McPherson

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A Mount Maunganui businessman who wants to rent out his fleet of Porsches to cruise ship passengers is tired of paying parking tickets and says council rules are getting in the way.

Four years ago, in his mid-30s and having made the "big bucks" in Europe, Paul Irving returned to New Zealand and set his sights on seeing his prized car collection start earning its keep.

For the past three seasons, which run from October to April, Mr Irving has rented his vehicles to cruise ship passengers from the wharf at the Port of Tauranga.

But this season the port stopped all operators coming beyond the port gate.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

"They tried to accommodate us, they were going to put us in the coolstore but the kiwifruit season got extended," Mr Irving said.

Renting out a Porsche, which costs about $395 for a 24-hour period, was an impulse purchase for customers and his business needed to be visible to cruise ship passengers when they disembarked and left the port about 7am, he said.

Since October, Mr Irving has had numerous run-ins with council parking wardens, including one instance where he was issued with three $40 tickets for using his vehicle for display and promotional purposes.

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby was sympathetic to Mr Irving's cause and has arranged a meeting at Salisbury Wharf on January 16.

Mr Crosby, council chief executive Ken Paterson, and Tourism Bay of Plenty general manager Glenn Ormsby would attend when the Pacific Dawn cruise ship is in town and observe the situation.

Mr Crosby acknowledged Mr Irving and other small traders were in a difficult position.

"There is an issue there for these type of people," he said.

Council's manager of environmental compliance John Payne said Mr Irving was not allowed to use his vehicles to promote trade or business.

"A lot of people are in the same position that are wanting to sell tours to the cruise ship people," he said.

He said other businesses had to pay high overheads for their premises.

"You can't just have a free-for-all, it would be quite a mess and quite uncontrollable if that was the case. I guess what they're trying to do is just make it an even playing field," he said.

Mr Payne said Mr Irving could park his Porsches in the council carpark to wait for passengers but could not advertise them for rent there.

But the business owner is frustrated, saying he is offering the only Porsche rental company in New Zealand and the vehicles are usually gone by 10.30am or midday if a cruise ship is in port until 11pm that night.

"All they're doing is persecuting fellow Kiwis," he said.

Early last year, Mr Irving also tried parking four of his cars backwards in angle parks along the beachfront opposite Banks Ave - until a $40 parking ticket was slapped under the windscreen wiper of each one.

In the interim, Tourism Bay of Plenty cruise manager Tania Lindsey suggested to the Bay of Plenty Times that Mr Irving focus his business online as a lot of cruise passengers were internet-savvy and booked prior to leaving or while on board.

He could also contact one of the main inbound operators who create tour packages to sell to passengers on board, she said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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