Zoey at the wheel before the first ever lesson on the new driver training course. Behind, from left, are Superintendent John Price, driving instructor Alister Cresswell, Nga Maata Waka general manager Carmen Hammond, driving school team leader Caroline Elliott , Te Runanga o Nga Mata Waaka CEO Norm Dewes and Fulton Hogan’s Michael Fulton.
On Wednesday (17 June 2020) psychology student Zoey was the first away from the kerb on Nga Maata Waka’s-new community driver training course in eastern Christchurch.
Created in the earthquake shattered suburb of Shirley with extensive road repairs provided at no cost by Fulton Hogan, the course is for those who otherwise might struggle to afford a driver’s licence. Zoey was being taught how to drive a manual car by instructor Alister Cresswell- one of Nga Maata Waka’s five driving instructors.
CEO of Te Rununga o Nga Maata Waka, Norm Dewes MNZM, says the greatest benefit, however, will be for young people facing the legal consequences of driving without a licence.
“A driver’s licence is a stepping stone to employment and an important step in keeping young, vulnerable people off a path to criminality,” Norm says.
Nga Maata Waka’s initiative unites Fulton Hogan, Police, Judiciary, the Ministries of Justice, Corrections, Education, Social Development, Te Puna Kokiri and agencies ranging from the Salvation Army to refugee support initiatives.
Fulton Hogan’s South Island General Manager Craig Stewart says it took only five minutes with Norm to share his vision.
“One of the biggest hurdles to employment for many young people is a driver’s licence, and creating a safe roading network for driver training will make a big difference,” Craig says. “We had the tools and the practical skills to help bring it to reality, and Nga Maata Waka had the driving school, the deep commitment and the wide range of relationships necessary.”
Police District Commander, Superintendent John Price describes it as exactly the sort of enlightened initiative that helps keep vulnerable young people on the path to employment, and away from pitfalls that can result from breaking the law.
“So often young people’s first experience with the law is a driving offence, often through being unlicensed. In too many cases the problem compounds when they are unable to either pay the fine and / or they re-commit the offence and the consequences snowball from there,” John says
“We are delighted to be part of a practical, community wide, private and public sector initiative that is an early intervention in breaking this cycle.”
The intention is that this eventually becomes an asset for the whole community.
“It’s a real source of support for us to have so many groups stepping in to help young people,” Norm Dewes says. “I’m always an optimist, but also realistic in knowing you can’t get anywhere on your own – you need a whole community.”
Maata Waka means the ‘confederation of all tribes, all nations, all people’ and is an approved community services provider for Child Youth and Family, as well as being registered and accredited by NZQA under the Education Act as a private training establishment. They deliver a range of services in health, education, justice, social services, creative arts, housing, business development, community development, cultural identity and competence, marae etiquette practice and customs.