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Driver mentor volunteers needed

14 Nov 2016

Driver mentor volunteers needed

The call is out for more driver mentors for the successful Nga Ara Pai – Community Driver Mentor Programme.

The 2-year-old programme is about to double the number of courses being offered to 16-24 year-olds to help them become safe drivers and gain their restricted drivers licence.

Tairawhiti Roads road safety educator Dianne Akurangi says it’s a win-win for the wider community.

“The community gets safer people on our roads and those who need that bit of extra support obtain their restricted licences,” she says.

“We have a lot of learner licence holders who don’t go on to get their full licence. That could be because they don’t have access to a reliable vehicle, financial issues, lack of confidence or no support.”

The Nga Ara Pai programme helps disadvantaged youth and families to take that step. “The programme has been really well received, even though it hasn’t been promoted a lot,” says Dianne.

“But the programme is only successful when we have a good pool of mentors.

“We're grateful to have on board the Gisborne Police, who currently provide 90% of our mentors.

“We have some exciting developments underway that'll see more opportunities created in the New Year meaning we require more volunteer mentors from the community.”

Dianne says volunteers need to have the right attributes to be part of the programme – that includes being approachable, friendly, trustworthy, have good listening skills, knowledge of the road code, be able to demonstrate sound driving skills, over 25-years of age and can give an hour of their time twice a week for 10 weeks.

Mentors and students use Nga Ara Pai vehicles for all training and tests.

“Learning to drive is a major turning point in young people’s lives and being able to help someone get their full licence can be a real game-changer for them,” she says.

Already around 80 people have been helped through the programme, which is a joint partnership between Gisborne District Council, the New Zealand Transport Authority, Caltex and the New Zealand Police.

Anyone who thinks they may have what it takes to be a volunteer mentor should contact Dianne Akurangi on 867 2049.

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