Keys to success
Mentors taking part in the Nga Ara Pai community driver mentor programme are making a big difference to the success of learner drivers.
Katarina Williams never thought she would be confident enough to get behind the wheel, but with the support of volunteer mentors she’s now into week seven of the ten week course.
“Learning to drive is a must for me,” says Katarina.
Her husband was the driver of the family, but after he recently fell ill he is no longer able to drive, and with two young children she was determined to get her license.
Katarina was referred to Nga Ara Pai by the team at Turanga Health’s, Hapu Mama service.
“Having mentors to give me driving experience is great,” says Katarina, “all their advice and tips have helped me learn a lot in a short time, and it’s good having a variety of people to drive around with.”
Tairawhiti Roads road safety educator Dianne Akurangi coordinates the Nga Ara Pai mentor programme and is a mentor herself.
“We’ve already seen some really positive and successful outcomes from the programme to date,” says Ms Akurangi.
NAP targets low income whanau with young families & young drivers 16-24yrs, the cost per trainee is $137 which contributes to the restricted licence test only.
Participants receive a road code, up to 3 professional driving lessons worth $80 each, up to 3 mentored drives per week, access to a vehicle, petrol and advice from the professionals.
Ms Akurangi says this is the third year the programme has been run in Gisborne, but in February 2017 it has increased opportunities for whanau.
“There are 25 mentors and we now have two service providers on board - McInnes Driver Training and Passrite Driving Academy, running parallel courses with up to 15 students per course over a ten week period.
“Already 12 students have passed their restricted license tests.
“The mentors, who are all volunteers giving 1 - 2 hours of their time each week, have been essential to that success.”
“The number of courses we are offering has doubled,” says Dianne, “which means we’ll have more people attaining licences than ever before, increased safety for passengers and road users, and better outcomes for low income whanau.
“It is life-changing for a lot of people.”
More mentors are needed. If you’re over 25 years old, hold a full NZ Drivers Licence and are interested in becoming a mentor driver or would like more information, contact Dianne Akurangi at Council on 867 2049.
At the wheel Katarina Williams and driver mentor Dianne Akurangi in the passenger seat.