The wiles and ways of Caldina

Japanese ‘Caldina’ looking for love in the Kiwi cul-de-sac. Photo: Nikki South.

She’s an orphan – unloved, abandoned. Given name Caldina, family name Toyota. Age – indeterminate – born Nagoya sometime between 1992 and 2007 when production ended.

But she does have a number – CKY579.

About two-and-a-half months ago someone drove Caldina into a 60-minute angle carpark in the cul-de-sac at the bottom end of The Strand, near Dive Crescent.

An unremarkable event at the time. No-one took much, if any, notice. The driver got out of the station wagon, walked away, never looked back, never came back. The parking enforcement officer did come back, time and time again. He used the front offside tyre as a blackboard and a slew of offence notices were tucked under the windscreen wiper.

Then nothing. Caldina just sat there. People started talking about her and people started grumbling about her. City council officers would drive into the cul-de-sac on odd occasions, stare at Caldina and scribble some notes. They would go. Caldina would stay.

The Weekend Sun went to the Tauranga City Council. When is a car deemed abandoned? When will it be removed? Will the owner be accountable for all the parking infringement notices? Do you know who the owner is and where they are? Was it stolen? These questions and more.

Back comes the council. Yes, they are aware of the vehicle. And they can only treat a car as ‘abandoned’ once both the WOF and registration have expired. The registration has expired and it has disappeared. The WOF’s not due until September. The TCC says bylaw officers have visited the car several times, but no-one has been at the vehicle. Sorry Weekend Sun – not much more to tell you about this one.  

But people have been at the vehicle. Caldina has been receiving visitors, generally behind the curtain of darkness and sometimes they have even been staying overnight. During the rain storms and cold recently it’s understood our homeless folk broke the passenger front window and took comfort. They moved in – Toyota Caldina became Motel Caldina.

And the crap the homeless couldn’t pack into Caldina was cast out onto the street. Suddenly the abandoned car issue became a homeless issue and an indiscriminate rubbish disposal issue.

Because right beside the unofficially abandoned car was an abandoned life – a homeless person living in a tent, next to a train track where thousands of tonnes of commerce thunders by every half hour, and right next to a diesel generator. Hardly a prime freedom camping site. And worse, that destitute soul did not keep a tidy campsite.

The TCC received a blast of bravado from a neighbour. “I have to register my dog and clean up after her but your privileged homeless get to leave their rubbish strewn around and toilet in the gardens and bushes!”

Back comes a diplomatic and defusing ‘thank you for your message’ from a TCC experiencing “a high volume of demand with respect to homeless complaints citywide.”

The TCC told our complainant that “the Peoples Project has started and we are trying to engage the homeless in an effort to get them off the streets, out of tents and into homes, which is very challenging.” So a work in progress.

But back to the Caldina. No, no more parking tickets on the car. What’s the point if no-one’s picking them up and paying them; if no-one can be held accountable?  What about the registered owner? Where are they? The car has probably been bought and sold three or four times since they owned it. But the sales have never been registered.

It was looking more like a dead end when our ‘disgruntleds’ made another thrust to finally be rid of Caldina. They pushed her up onto the berm –the thinking being she was now illegally parked so would be removed.

Uh, uh! No signs saying ‘no parking behind kerb’ – so Caldina is legally parked.  

And what started as a minor intrusion into quiet, tidy lives on The Strand had rapidly become an obsession to be rid of the cursed Caldina – “pox on her.”

The bylaws man came back to the cul-de-sac. He stood there with his TCC ‘Customer Contact Module’ pad and pen poised. “Please make contact with me to discuss what is happening with your car …it may be treated as abandoned if there is no reply.”

A hollow threat seeing the owner has shown no interest to date. However the bylaws man must, by law, do what bylaws dictate. And until the WOF expires – September – Caldina is not ‘officially’ abandoned and cannot be removed.

Caldina just sits parked up, thrusting her butt, tauntingly, at the disgruntleds across the road.

It may or may not be their last play. But last night a sign was attached to Caldina’s boot. ‘Free car – please take away’. She deserves love after what she has been through.