A great option for Learner drivers
It has been a big week for some of Hurunui District’s learner drivers.
On Wednesday James Crosby did the honours of having the inaugural driving lesson under the Hurunui District Council’s (HDC) Driver Mentor Programme.
HDC is part of this nationwide framework, a solution for getting more job seekers with Learner licences behind the wheel, and reducing rural isolation.
James is 23 years old, based in Waikari, and is keen to get back into the workforce which is harder with only a Learner Licence.
In Australia he had a forklift driving job at Port Melbourne. But back in North Canterbury with no access to a vehicle, no one to teach him to drive and no way of getting to work, this Programme is his ticket to getting employed again.
Admittedly feeling a bit nervous about getting behind the wheel, James was equally looking forward to this opportunity.
“This Programme is the best option for me, and there are plenty of young people like me in Hurunui in the same situation,” he said, adding that the next step will be sitting his Restricted Licence and buying his own car.
James heard about the Programme through Mayor's Taskforce for Jobs (MTFJ).
His driver mentor John Stroh has done plenty of driving instructing, and sees the bigger picture of what it means for young people to be able to drive.
“It’s a leg up for a young person to exercise their freedom. I’m totally in support of this Programme and I wish there were more opportunities like this, to push through barriers which exist with living in a rural community.”
This morning, 21 year-old Waipara local Nikky Shirtcliffe took to the wheel, she’s had her Learner Licence for one month.
She heard about the programme through her mum and MTFJ.
Nikky said receiving lessons from a driver mentor will help ease her nerves, and she looks forward to getting confidence so she can sit her Restricted Licence this year.
“I want to get a job helping elderly folk,” she said.
Driving mentor Ward Shearman said this Programme is a great way to build young people’s confidence, and he enjoys the rapport he builds when helping them navigate the skill of driving.
“I think this is amazing, and helps create safe drivers.”
Emma Feathery is the Driver Programme Coordinator at HDC, and is really happy to see the programme now underway.
“It will create so much confidence amongst these Learner drivers, opening up so many opportunities.”
The Programme was originally initiated by MTFJ, and now involves a steering group including schools, the Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, migrant support, Welcoming Communities, Hurunui Youth Programme, Road Safety, Ministry of Education, and Pro-active Drive. There is additional support from Salvation Army.
Last year, Culverden Fire Chief and driver mentor Craig Ritchie took a few minutes to express his support for the Programme, identifying the enjoyment he sees in the confidence and determination gained with good driving skills, and creating safer roads for everyone.
If you would like to know more about the Driver Mentor Programme, please visit