Urban authority sets up initiative to get whānau into electric vehicles

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

Electric vehicles are the future and the Manukau Urban Māori Authority says it's important that no whānau is left behind.

MUMA has started a new pilot project called Waka Aronui that will allow whānau from low-income households to take advantage of the use of electric vehicles, which will reduce gas emissions and save money.

This comes after the budget announcement last week that $20 million will be allocated for a low-emissions vehicle leasing scheme for 20 low-income whānau, thanks to Japanese car giant Toyota.

MUMA chairman Bernie O’Donnell says the project’s name refers to one of the three kete o te wānanga (baskets of knowledge), Aronui.

“After observing what was required in a human space, we came up with innovative things that would help humankind. That’s what Waka Aronui is all about,” O’Donnell says.

Waka Aronui was born out of a Financial Services Federation meeting in 2018, and was picked up by the Ākina Foundation, which worked with public and private sector partners to bring it to life.

Three-year lease

"They [Toyota] had their used vehicles. Sometimes one person’s used vehicle is another man’s brand new car.

“The idea was 'how we can start to offer those vehicles to our communities who would normally not have the opportunity to drive those kinds of cars'.”

Whānau involved in the scheme will pay a three-year lease for a low-emitting hybrid electric Toyota Corolla wagon. The lease covers the warrant of fitness, registration, insurance, servicing, repairs and a new set of tyres annually during the lease and will cost $95 a week.

“Understanding that the costs of running a vehicle, which are often a part of the burden that whānau and communities have to carry, are incorporated in the lease.”

After the lease is up, whānau can buy the car if they wish.

“But coming from a community that understands that, once the three years are up, your car is almost ‘poked.’ The lease opportunity gives you another option to upgrade your vehicle at the same kind of price to make sure you’re driving a modern car but you can absolutely have the option of buying out.”