2 May
2 May 2018

Manfeild driving programme at school

IMMERSING in a road safety programme and young driver tuition operating from Manfeild is giving a small college near Feilding an amazing opportunity it intends to maximise.

Hato Paora College is a Catholic Maori boys’ school at which almost all students are fulltime boarders.

It draws students from all over New Zealand – including the Chatham Islands – and also overseas, including at the moment Kiwi kids whose parents are working in Germany and New York, for up to five years’ education.

This raises one bump on a road Sean Bristow, the acting principal and also the director of teaching and learning, intends all his students should ultimately take before they depart: Achieving a driver licence.

“Ninety-seven percent of our boys are boarders and, with that, comes challenges around them being able to access providers for licences,” he explains.

“When they’re from as far north as the Hokianga, from the Chatham Islands or even just from Taranaki or Hawkes’ Bay it’s not practical for them to get the help they’d normally be able to get from whanau - mum and dad, uncles and aunties, brother and sister.”

That’s where the National Driver Training Centre (NDTC), based at Manfeild, comes in.

Hato Paora students who were guided by the centre last year to achieving their learner licences are now progressing into the next phase, spending the next term achieving a restricted qualification, driving NTDC’s partially electric Toyota Prius PHEV hatchbacks under the guidance of volunteer mentors.

An activity funded by the NZ Transport Agency and also delivering a strong road safety message has kicked off with the first wave of students spending time in NDTC’s driving simulator and meeting mentors who will sit in with them when they drive.

Teens Haimona Pirini-Tipene of Manukau City, Paku Hook (Hastings) and Pani Brown (Otaki) were introduced to Eric Linklater and Andrea Mackenzie, Feilding residents who answered a NTDC call put through the town’s two Rotary clubs, Feilding and Makino.

Mr Bristow is appreciative; a licence has become an essential qualification for school-leavers, he says, but school policy does not allow for the few already-licenced students to have their own vehicles, so having a provider coming in with a complete package is a great solution.

“From an educational and vocational point of view, in terms of pathways, this is a fantastic thing.

“If we can take students to the point where they are on restricted or full licences when they front up to get jobs this, we think, will give them an advantage. This programme does that for us.”

NTDC programme manager Michael Barbour says his organisation is privileged to further assist students clearly enthusiastic about the opportunity.

“This falls under our community driver mentor programme which is designed to address the barriers some learner drivers face when attempting to achieve their driver licence, including access to a suitable car and a driving mentor to give them the driving practise they need, and help instil responsible and prudent driving habits.

“This is a community effort to help keep us all safe on the road and we’d welcome other mentors who want to join the programme.”

“We are delighted to already have some amazing mentors who have generously given their time to take the students out once a week over 12 weeks in our cars.”

Mrs Mackenzie (Makino) said she is glad to help. “I have the time and I taught my three grandchildren to drive. I think it is important for young drivers to get a good grounding … and grandparent-type age people can sometimes relate better in this than parents. We have the patience.”

Mr Linklater (Feilding) agreed: “I’ve had a lifelong interest in driving and I helped young people to drive. This is an opportunity to continue that in a more formal setting. I’m probably going to learn a few lessons myself.”

Harry Wilson, NZTA community road safety programme director, says youths are over-represented in crash rates in New Zealand.

“Improving the safety of young people on the roads is one of the key priorities in the Government’s Safer Journeys road safety strategy. Good driver education is simply essential for our young peoples’ safety and it will also help reduce the number of crashes.

Hato Paora students training.jpg

Caption: Hato Paora student Haimona Pirini-Tipene, 17, receives a rundown on the controls of the National Driver Training Centre’s Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid electric hatchback from volunteer mentor Andrea Mackenzie of Feilding.

Photo by: Simone Viljoen

“This is an excellent initiative and provides a way for the community to work together to support our young people and help them develop safe driving behaviours.”


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