A homeless Napier woman living in her car is accruing thousands of dollars in parking fines as she waits for emergency housing.
Anahera Aotearoa has lived in her car on and off for nearly a decade.
She is unsure of the exact amount she owes Napier City Council for parking fines, most of which stem from breaching freedom camping rules.
She is trying to pay some of it back, but is contesting many of the fines, which she alleges were unfair.
In her worst week, she claims to have been fined $1000.
A council spokesperson said the council could not comment on individual cases.
"Our approach is to first provide advice and education to assist people in how to comply with our freedom camping bylaw," the spokesperson said.
"Where appropriate we connect people to support agencies. Council balances this approach with the need to respond to community complaints and resolve situations where a person is continuing to breach the law."
All Napier city freedom camping sites are regularly monitored. Under the Freedom Camping Act 2011, the council can issue an instant $200 fine to anyone breaking the freedom camping bylaw.
Freedom camping is allowed at BMX Pump Track carpark, Marine Parade (three nights max), Westshore Beach Reserve (two nights max), Perfume Pt carpark (two nights) and Foreshore Reserve carpark (two nights).
Aotearoa is an ACC beneficiary and says she struggles financially.
"I have disputed the fines over and over," she said.
"I have been ticketed in areas I should not have been ticketed, I got tickets for parking on the side of the road, and most recently I got a freedom camping ticket for $200, but I wasn't even there overnight.
"For the past two to three years I have been on the waiting list for social housing, and for the past few months I have been on the waiting list for motels for emergency accommodation.
"I have struggled throughout the years to find a home, just like thousands of others out there."
As of December 2020, Napier had the highest number of people on the Housing Register in Hawke's Bay (741), followed by Hastings (706), Wairoa (85) and Central Hawke's Bay (68).
Napier also topped the charts with the highest number of children on the emergency housing waiting list in the region (168), followed by Hastings (30), Wairoa (15) and Central Hawke's Bay (12).
According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Napier is top of all territorial authorities for public housing register numbers per capita.
Aotearoa suggested the council could relax the free camping rules for homeless people, as they were not visitors - they were locals.
"I have gone from no vehicle, living on the streets, to being curled up in a car. I have no other place to live, and I am not a tourist or in a motorhome," she said.