The New Zealand Transport Agency is investing $116,000 in the Opotiki Community Driver Mentor Programme to help more teens and young adults gain their restricted licence.
Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss believes the new community-based driving programme will help young people take advantage of employment opportunities in the region.
“This programme will help open up the world for young disadvantaged drivers – providing more freedom, mobility and employment opportunities.
“With a licence, young people in Opotiki will have the best possible chance of benefiting from the Harbour Development Project and other economic development initiatives, which are expected to generate more than 450 new jobs.”
The Community Driver Mentor Programme will be co-ordinated and managed by the Opotiki District Council.
“This initiative is part of the Government’s commitment to supporting driver licensing programmes in Eastern Bay of Plenty, as outlined in the recently-released Building Skilled and Safe Workplaces chapter of the Business Growth Agenda.”
Opotiki Councillor Arihia Tuoro says the announcement is excellent news for the Opotiki District and is the sort of initiative that can make a genuine difference to local people’s lives.
“We have many young people living rurally or in isolated communities and there often isn’t an alternative to private transport to get places. I know helping one person to get their licence will have a wider impact than just that one individual – it means better options for families, friends and even neighbours,” she says.
“It will be great to see the ‘rubber hit the road’ and see and hear about individuals helped through this programme.”
The Community Driver Mentor Programme is underway in six other communities across New Zealand, from Whangarei to Christchurch.