Coin-operated parking to stay in towns, after opposition from locals to digital payment


Laughing down the phone, Kani Panapa insists he's not in a dying job.


The Napier parking officer has been a warden for nine years and loves it - and he isn't worried an increasingly cashless society will render his position useless.


"What we do is we just go around and if they're there over the time limit, we deal with that side of it," he says. "If anything we just try to help the people out if there's any problems ... you get the abuse, but that's just part of the job."


The last of the country's councils using pay-by-coin parking are itching to ditch the lollipop machines but are being stymied by locals not ready for the transition.


In Marlborough, where streets are lined with two types of payment machines to cater to those card or cash inclined, plans are afoot to combine the two.


"[Lollipop meters] have been used for some time now, however [they] are coming to the end of their useful life and as such it is timely to replace them with modern technology," a council spokeswoman said. But while its preference was for people to ditch the cash due to the "regular coin theft and vandalism" of its meters, residents have told the council they're worried about being charged additional fees by their bank or credit card, she said.


Thus the new digital option replacing Marlborough's meters will have coin payment available.


Nearby in Nelson where the coin machines are more than 10 years old, the council was forced to reconsider replacing the technology after a poll of hundreds of residents revealed nearly half said they'd keep using coins given the choice.


In Napier people showed "a strong preference for cash", according to its council, and in Whang─ürei, its council's roading engineer Greg Monteith blamed local preference for coin payment on an older population. "I don't think they're prepared just yet to move away from it."


Last year, Auckland's Waiheke Island parking officer Duncan Quinn quit after 20 years, accusing Auckland Council of turning the parking into "a cash cow" and saying new technology had added to the difficulty of the role, including online systems taking much longer to check than paper receipts.


But Panapa reckons forgoing the cash is easier for parkers. "A lot of the sales reps like it because not a lot of them carry coins and stuff, and it's easier for them to use the app, they can just get in, do what they have to do and leave."



Sunday Star Times