Source: New Zealand Transport Agency
Kaikohe locals are now able to sit their practical driver licence test closer to home and will have one of New Zealand’s first community driver testing officers (CDTO) working in their community.
The public are able to book practical tests that will be conducted by VTNZ. For people participating in driver licence programmes run by Te Kotahitanga e Mahi Kaha Trust, they will also be able to book tests with a CDTO.
The Kaikohe CDTO is one of a group who recently passed from the first Waka Kotahi CDTO training course.
Funded by Waka Kotahi, the CDTO is a brand new role, introduced to offer dedicated Class 1 practical tests to participants in community-led driver licensing programmes. In Kaikohe, this programme is provided by Te Kotahitanga e Mahi Kaha Trust.
Waka Kotahi, Director Regional Relationships, Steve Mutton said he’s pleased to see practical driver testing available in Kaikohe and to welcome the new CDTO.
“A driver licence opens the door to opportunities like jobs, training, and much more. We know some people face barriers accessing the driver licence system.
“Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is leading a cross-agency Driver Licensing Improvement Programme to develop solutions to improve access and equity and the new Community Driver Testing Officer in Kaikohe is part of that solution.”
“Community Driver Testing Officers are from their local community. In Kaikohe, they will work for the Te Kotahitanga e Mahi Kaha Trust to test driver licence programme participants for a Class 1 licence. They are a familiar friendly face which is really helpful for people sitting their driver test who might face hurdles in getting there.
“Having more trained and licensed drivers makes our roads safer for everyone” said Steve Mutton.
Far North District Council Kahika (Mayor) Moko Tepania said a community driver testing officer will be a game changer for the residents of Kaikohe.
“I am so excited to see a return of practical driving tests to our township.
“A driver’s licence opens so many pathways for job and training opportunities and not being able to sit practical tests in Kaikohe has presented additional unfair challenges for those striving to get ahead.
“I can’t wait to see the successes of this move for our people” he said.
Te Kotahitanga e Mahi Kaha Trust CEO, Billie Jo Hohepa-Ropiha says she is proud of her kaimahi who has passed the rigorous CDTO qualification.
“Her skills will enable more local people to be licensed which is a great thing for everyone.
“It is a crime to drive without a license and penalties are very high for our rangatahi who are already battling with a raft of social and economic barriers in their lives. If Te Kotahitanga e Mahi Kaha can play our part in reducing this by focusing on our Maori youth in the Kaikohe region, then that is our mission!”
VTNZ National Technical Manager, Craig Basher, said VTNZ was very pleased to work with Waka Kotahi to expand driver testing services in communities around New Zealand.
“At this stage we are committed to having a Driver Testing Officer in Kaikohe fortnightly, but we can reassess that if the demand is higher than expected. Bookings are open and I recommend that those wanting to sit their practical Class 1 Restricted or Full Licence get in quick as new services tend to fill up quickly,” he said.
As well as Kaikohe, Waka Kotahi and VTNZ have recently established practical driving test routes in Dargaville, Wairoa and Waipukurau.
VTNZ started offering practical driver testing to the general public from 8 December 2022.
Practical driving tests for Te Kotahitanga e Mahi Kaha Trust programme participants will start in the next few weeks.