Life has its challenges for Paula Simpson.
She moved from Tauranga to a rural address 10km out of Kaitaia a couple of years ago to be close to her elderly mother, and has the full-time care of her adult autistic daughter. She gets by on a carer's benefit, but unnecessary expenses are to be avoided.
She has abandoned all hope of persuading Waka Kotahi NZTA to show a smidgen of flexibility though, after she missed the final deadline for registering her car by four days.
That oversight is proving expensive and highly inconvenient, but she had been told repeatedly that the law is the law and makes no exceptions.
Paula has been instructed to take her car to Whangārei, where it will go through the re-registration process. The inspection will cost her $599, plus a few hundred more for new registration plates and a sticker for the windscreen.
The examination will take all day, and she will then have 20 days to rectify any faults. The car has been verified as up to warrant of fitness standard, so she isn't expecting any issues, but if there are she will have to take it back to Whangārei for final approval.
The inspection cannot be done until May 12, however. She cannot legally drive the car in the meantime, although officialdom is happy for her to drive it to Whangārei, where it is expected to arrive at 8am, meaning a 5.30am start for Paula and her disabled daughter. It will also need to be in immaculate condition.
Paula conceded last week that her predicament was of her own making. She had failed to register the car for 12 months, and had missed the final deadline, although the last reminder had been posted to her old address in Tauranga, and she had never received it.
"I'm not making any excuses," she said.
"The law is the law, and I got it wrong. I'm not trying to back out of anything. I'm just frustrated by the hoops they are making me jump through."
And she was keen to make others aware of what could happen if they let their vehicle registration lapse. There would be plenty of them, she said - she had counted 15 unregistered cars in the Kaitaia Pak'nSave carpark, on a quiet day.
"Don't expect any favours if you get caught," she said.
"They are ruthless, and it will cost you a lot of money. For some people getting a car back on the road will be just about impossible."
She was a "stickler" for the law though, and was keen to get back on the right side of it.
And she had tried to comply. She had had two new tyres fitted, and the wheels balanced, on January 15, and booked it in for a warrant of fitness on February 5. The registration deadline fell on January 28.
"We all get a bit stuck sometimes, and we all make mistakes, but who actually benefits from making me jump through all these hoops," she asked.
The car is perfectly safe to drive. The only issue is that I owe some tax, which I am happy to pay. A warrant of fitness is much more important than registration, but that doesn't seem to be how the law sees it."