Mentor programme keeps new drivers on track (in Maungaturoto)

Photo: Julia Wade, Mangawhai Focus. Te Roroa staff and Rotary around car
Julia Wade, Mangawhai Focus, 07/05/18

People eager to get driving around local streets but have trouble qualifying for a drivers licence can now get a helping hand to steer them along.

Launched by Te Roroa Learning Assistance (TRLA) on May 2, who successfully run the programme in Dargaville, the Maungaturoto Driver Mentor Programme (MDMP) is designed for learner drivers who do not have a support system to gain enough experience and required hours behind the wheel in order to obtain their restricted driving licence. Limited finances and access to a registered and warranted vehicle, plus the time of a full licenced driver, are some of the reasons which currently impede some learners.

Among those attending the launch at Maungaturoto Community Centennial Hall was RoadSafe Northland, voluntary driving mentors, police, Kaipara District Council (KDC), sponsors, and Rotary Club of Maungaturoto and Districts (RCMD), who generously provided a 2001 Holden Astra for the programme candidates to practise their driving skills.

Rotary Maungaturoto president Alex Tetzner says the club became motivated to help establish the scheme after discovering the national high failure rate for those sitting their restricted licence for the first time. 

“It’s in order of 80 per cent, so there’s a lot of learners out there who would have got pretty traumatised by that failure, no one likes to fail,” he says. “A second motivation is the fact that a serious impediment for gaining meaningful employment for rural folk is the lack of a driver’s license. With the help of Te Roroa Learning Assistance and RoadSafe, it was agreed that a driver mentoring programme would be beneficial to this area.”

Six keen learners have already signed up for the programme which is open to all residents living in the east Kaipara region and officially began on May 3. Candidates will receive 12 free local driving lessons, graduating to the streets, lights, roundabouts and congested intersections of Whangarei once the mentors believe they are ready. The Dargaville programme has been running successfully since 2016 with 61 students qualifying for their restricted licence.

“A huge thanks to those who have helped to bring the project to fruition: Maungaturoto Four Square, Ray White, Brogan Builders and Dean Garnett of Garnett’s Tyre Service who has serviced the car and will also carry out a basic maintenance tutorial with the candidates covering changing tyres, checking the oil and water… it’s incredible,” he says. “We have six enthusiastic mentors, I’m confident the program is going to be successful.” 

If interested in learning more or signing up, contact Te Roroa Learning Assistance, 0800 555 635.
The large team responsible for steering new drivers in the right direction; Included in the ranks of Te Roroa consultants, Rotary members, mentors, and sponsors are (left front) Kaipara Health Community Trust CEO Debbie Evans (who was acknowledged for being the catalyst for the programme), RoadSafe Funding manager Gillian Archer and (red shirts) Te Roroa’s Linda Cowbourne, Ashlee Wati and Leeanne Parry. At back, from left, KDC roading engineer Dwayne Glasson, Northland Police road policing manager Inspector Wayne Ewers (who says he is ‘keen for anything to help people be safer on the roads’), and Rotary president Alex Tetzner.