Life-changing drivers' licence programme in high demand

By Jessica Tyson

The drivers' licence programme Tairawhiti REAP has become so popular that it's looking for funding to expand.

Ani Pahuru-Huriwai of Tairāwhiti REAP says so far almost 200 people have graduated since the programme started last year and more and more people are showing interest.

“We hope this initiative will gain more funding so that it can carry on because we know that there are more people in the Ngāti Porou, Te Aitanga o Hauiti, Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga a Mahaki and the Wairoa regions who don’t have their licence.”

The course has given people confidence and served as a pathway to employment.

Whetu Asher Rangihuna says before the programme he was about to lose his learners licence due to fines. After taking part in the programme he passed his restricted to help with his job as a beekeeper.

Beekeeping business co-owner Sue Pahuru says, “One of the biggest advantages of this programme is that it’s been an absolute morale booster for our boys. We also had young Whetu who graduated from the programme, Paratene and Brady and they’re feeling really good about themselves and really good about their jobs.”

Co-owner Mark Kerr says their beekeepers are sometimes required to work at night when moving beehives so they have to be fully licenced.

“With the work, they do it’s critical that they’re mobile and it’s been fantastic to have the assistance.”

Rangatahi from Wairoa pass their drivers tests. Source: Tairawhiti REAP, Facebook

Meanwhile, local police officer James Garbett says when he first arrived in the region to work he identified a huge issue which was the number of people unlicenced.

“Due to our remote location, three hours’ drive to Gisborne, it was in the too hard basket because of costs, fear of failure and many other things.”

He says there were many people who had sat on the same learners or restricted license for 10 to 15 years.

 “We were lucky enough for Tairawhiti REAP to step in and come up with their driver programme and I can’t say enough about it. The positive impact on the community has just been overwhelming.

“Tairawhiti REAP has given a lot of people the opportunity to believe in themselves to go that next step to get their restricted. To get their full licence and ultimately give them opportunities to get employment because they can travel.”

Pahuru-Huriwai says she has applied for funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for He Poutama Rangatahi which would cover the region but only capture 16 to 24-year-olds.

"It's our 25 plus who are needing and wanting to move on to their full-licence."