Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Super City's super warden: Pensioner doles out $289,000 in parking tickets

Motorists better watch out for fit and fast Officer 1013. Photo / Kenny Rodger
Motorists better watch out for fit and fast Officer 1013. Photo / Kenny Rodger

The Super City has a super parking warden who issued nearly double the value in tickets than the next best warden in the last financial year.

Officer 1013 - who the Herald agreed not to name - issued 8747 tickets worth $289,492.

Not bad for a 65-year-old pensioner, whose last job was assistant to the custodian of stamps at NZ Post.

His nearest colleague issued tickets valued at $150,203.

The Herald asked Auckland Transport for details of the top 10 parking wardens.

The council-controlled organisation was happy to release figures for the 2014-2015 financial year but would not name names, to protect wardens from harassment.

What the figures show is that the central business district is a goldmine when it comes to issuing tickets and boosting council coffers.

Seven of the top 10 most-ticketed streets are in the central city, where the top officer works the "blue ribbon" beat of Queen St, High St, Lorne St and Kitchener St.

He puts his success down to being fit, covering a lot of distance and playing the numbers game of the more vehicles you pass the more tickets you issue.

"It's verbal judo on the street," says Officer 1013, whose day often starts ticketing and towing cars in Queen St before 11am, when it's a loading zone for service vehicles.

"I have heard every kind of story, every kind of excuse. 'I get paid next week', 'It's not my car', 'I'm on a sickness benefit'. They will play the sympathy card, but you notice they will be texting on a Galaxy S6," he said.

Many, many, many times the officer has heard the "F" word and tries to be cool and calm people down. Sometimes, though, a sixth sense of danger kicks in.

"I'm 65 years old and I don't want a knife in the guts. I'm not a hero and if I sense danger, I pretty much end the conversation."

A few weeks ago, he encountered a driver parked in a goods-vehicle zone with an unrestrained child in the front seat who told him to "f*** off".

"I told him, 'No worries'. I walked past the vehicle and at a safe distance from the rear I took a photo of the vehicle [and] noted 'driver unapproachable, driver refused to move'.

"He still got the infringement. I just issued it around the corner out of harm's way."

Last July, a warden was admitted to hospital with injuries including a fractured rib and a partially collapsed lung.

Landscape gardener Peter Brenan Gallagher, 59, was sentenced in December to 250 hours of community work for beating the warden.

Gallagher was given two tickets after leaving his car illegally parked over his Kingsland driveway and having an expired warrant-of-fitness certificate.

Officer 2013 said that contrary to what people thought, Auckland Transport did not operate a quota system for tickets and pay bonuses.

"I can go out and do one ticket or 100, but my pay is exactly the same," he said.

According to the Public Service Association union, Auckland Council parking wardens earn between $41,968 and $58,560.

Council parking enforcement manager Rick Bidgood says being a parking warden could be a thankless job, but staff came to work with a smile on their face.

"It's a rigorous process - including good communication skills - becoming a parking warden, and staff have a strong bond and support mechanisms to deal with the rigours."

Mr Bidgood said almost half of wardens' time was spent giving people directions and telling them all manner of things about the city.

"If we can do as many normal things as possible, we just become an extension of the community."

- NZ Herald

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