Our Wellington

News | 11 January 2021

Life as a parking officer

Meet Abra, mother of four, grandmother of two and owner of a black cat called Crackerjack. She also loves to walk, write poetry, and celebrate seasons.

Parking warden Abra walking along a city street.

She and her friends have a You Tube channel called Meow Gurrls where they publish poetry videos and she knows some Te Reo too.  

Outside of her personal life, Abra pounds the pavements of Wellington as a parking officer for Wellington City Council. 

It’s a far cry from her previous job as an office administrator, and one she loves for the opposite reason. 

“I’ve gone from a desk-based sedentary job indoors where most days are the same, to a job where I’m outside and active for the entire day – and I never know the area I’ll be assigned to until I arrive at work.”   

Parking in Wellington? Here's what you need to know

The idea of walking the streets and interacting with people all day, every day, attracted Abra to the job she began just over a year ago. 

“I walk up to 20km a day, I feel fitter, it’s been good for my health, and I get to see all the nooks and crannies around Wellington.” 

Abra talks of the ever-changing views of Wellington Harbour, the house with a garden full of monarch butterflies, the bridge near Parliament that has a tree growing through the gaps and her encounters with Mittens, “the cat of Wellington”. 

“Wellington is full of little surprises, all things you wouldn’t see if you weren’t on foot,” grins Abra. 

Abra pounds the pavements of Wellington as a parking officer for Wellington City Council.

On any given day Abra and her nine-strong team could be assigned to an area anywhere from suburbs like Johnsonville and Kilbirnie, or within the CBD. 

She’s on the lookout for motorists overstaying their paid parking period, expired warrants of fitness and car registrations, vehicles parked on yellow lines or over fire hydrants, and any other parking offences, such as parking in clearways.  

Abra and her colleagues man clearways and bus lanes around the city at peak time too. They also work in pairs to operate cameras at bus lanes to ensure motorists are abiding by the law.   

Now and again she’ll have to deal with an angry motorist, but that doesn’t faze her. 

“It’s a very small part of this job and I do understand their reactions - I try to talk with them and explain the situation."

Those situations happen frequently and are part of the job, but Abra instead focuses on the positives. 

“The people who get angry over being ticketed are few and far between, the positives far outweigh the negatives in this job. 

“If there were no parking wardens, people would park up as long as they wanted and it would be very difficult for anyone to get a park in the city – at the end of the day, we’re making everyday life easier for people and I feel good about that.” 

 

Image of cars on Victoria Street in area proposed for temporary road changes

Even cold, wet, windy Wellington days don’t dampen Abra’s spirits. 

“We have all the gear to keep us warm and dry, and once you’re out there it’s fine, you just get on with it.” 

Regardless of weather or motorists’ temperament, what Abra loves is being an ambassador for the city.   

“We get asked a lot of questions, people approach us about all sorts of things, where can I find good coffee, where’s a good place to eat, where is such-and-such a business or street, where is the Cable Car?"

The job definitely keeps Abra on her toes.

“Believe it or not, this position really helps with memory, awareness and being in the moment.

“My short-term memory has significantly improved, we have to always be aware of our location and what is happening around us.

It’s part of the reason time moves quickly because you are always in the moment - there’s no need for some fancy mindfulness seminar, you get it for free on this job,” she laughs.