Stunned by the audacious parking of parents picking their children up from the primary school opposite her home, Jenni Mortimer uncovers the outrageous number of Auckland parents pinged for offences at the school gates.
When we bought our home on Auckland's North Shore, one of the things I really liked about the area was the "family-friendly" vibe and its proximity to lovely local schools.
Given we were planning to start a family, I couldn't have been more pleased when we had an offer accepted for a modest home, a stone's throw from a primary school and several cute daycare centres.
However, I was totally blindsided to find, upon moving in, that the local school community also thinks they own my home. Though they don't seem to pay my rates, despite using my driveway more than I do, at least from 8am to 9am and 2pm to 3.30pm.
When I was working 8am to 4pm this went unnoticed because I wasn't there. But when I began maternity leave and discovered I was being held prisoner in my own home for two-and-a-half hours a day, it began to truly enrage me.
I like to refer to these early days of rage as "the peeping".
Over a week I began noticing a mother who, every day, moved the road cones put out by the school to park her maroon SUV directly in front of the gates, up to an hour before school finished.
Then came the Yellow Line Parkers, willing to park up to and over school zebra crossings.
They make it dangerous for the more than 99 per cent of children trying to get across the road. The rest? Their own children who, of course, are more important than the rest.
Happy to wait outside the school for an hour on their phones, I can only assume these people dabble in multi-level marketing. I imagine they're messaging kids from their old high school offering them an "amazing business opportunity".
Our peeping began with peeking at parking crimes over the road. But before I knew it, I too had become a direct victim of this bold sub-species of parent.
There I was, watching from afar when a white hatchback pulled across my driveway. A brunette with a poorly executed ponytail looked around, pulled her handbrake and sat there for 45 minutes until school was out.
The next day, she did it again, right on yellow lines, right across the end of my drive. This time she was even earlier.
On day three, Debbie, as I'd decided to dub her, got herself a friend. Let's call her Karen. Debbie and Karen stood in my driveway and chatted for the majority of the wait time, before the two leisurely walked to the school gates to collect their kids.
I knew things were kicking up a notch when my very mellow husband encountered Deb while trying to get out of our driveway. He nicely told her she was on yellow lines and that this was a private access way to our house.
I maintained The Peep and watched, aghast, from the window as Deb threw her hands in the air like she had been shot. Deb was full of privilege and outrage.
Thankfully the Debster moved, but it wasn't over. In the weeks that followed, new parents eyed our driveway as an untapped goldmine. If they got there early enough they could nab it.
It wasn't just our driveway either. These parents had decided any drive was fair game and began parking across them faster than your essential oil sales will skyrocket if you take Karen up on her exciting opportunity.
To be honest, I think it's the every-wo/man-for-themselves attitude that made me maddest. There was zero camaraderie between parents as they fought each other. It made me question what is wrong with us that we are perfectly alright with screwing other people over, just to make a tiny personal gain. In this instance, dodge a 100 metre walk to an actual legal parking spot.
I decided to be proactive and email the school, asking nicely that they remind parents they don't own the street or driveways and that their parking could be dangerous to residents and students. I even provided photo evidence of the many illegal park jobs.
They didn't reply.
Maybe Karen and Deb are on the PTA and simply have too much power, as well as fantastic gluten-, nut- and sugar-free recipes for the bake sales.
Last week I tried to get out of my driveway at 8am to take my baby to a doctor's appointment, only to be blocked by parents, making us late.
My husband now leaves for work 90 minutes earlier than he used to, just to avoid being held hostage by bolshy parents.
I decided I had had enough. So I contacted Auckland Transport and discovered the streets surrounding Auckland schools are teeming with Karen and Deb types.
Auckland Transport issued a whopping 11,432 infringements during school patrols in the past 12 months. And while it's worth noting that this compares to a total of almost 500,000 tickets in the last full financial year, that's still a Spark Arena-sized crowd of naughty mums and dads putting kids at risk and grinding the gears of residents like me.
What can we do?
Auckland Transport said it gets complaints from residents and school staff across the region about parents parking illegally.
If you've found yourself with a Deb in your driveway, you can call 09 355 3553 and a warden will be dispatched to issue a $60 infringement notice or tow the car.
I won't hesitate to do this and will keep doing so until these people get the message.
So Deb and Karen: consider yourself warned, because this mother is over it. When you put my baby and the safety of other children at risk, you've gone too far.