A driver's licence initiative in Te Tairāwhiti is helping whānau from Matakaoa to Wairoa gain their licences, enabling them to further pursue employment opportunities and contribute to their communities.
48-year-old Hamiora Huriwai of Ngāti Porou says, “It's been a long journey with many highs and lows but I've succeeded the requirements set out by REAP [Rural Education Activities Programme] to us in Te Araroa and I'm ecstatic.”
REAP program manager Ani Pahuru-Huriwai says, “We were completely shocked to see the great number of our relations who still don't have their licence.”
Pahuru-Huriwai believes the programme removes the roadblocks that hinder people in remote Tairāwhiti areas.
“From the beginning to the end [Learner Licence to Full Licence], it's around $500 if you're lucky and you succeed the first time. Traveling from rural areas, from Wharekāhika or Pōtaka all the way in to town it's about a three-hour drive. Poverty as well, they're thinking about food for their children, how to feed them or clothe their kids, they're not giving one ounce of thought to getting a licence.”
88 people have graduated from the latest intake of the program with licenses at the three different levels, from learner to full, opening up the roads ahead of them.
“That's the real benefit, that they go out and work. If they don't get work the mothers can't help their kōhanga reo, the kura kaupapa in taking the kids to the big events. Some are joining up with St. Johns and the fire service so that's amazing,” says Pahuru-Huriwai.
Hamiora Huriwai works with Te Kōhanga Reo o Hinerupe in Te Araroa.
“I know your nanny Māmā Mereheni will be amazed at what I've done. For a long time Māmā Mereheni told me 'boy, get your licence boy', now I've done what I needed to do, I've realised what she had wanted and what my family wanted.” says Huriwai.
The high demand for the program suggests the intake will continue to grow.