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Drive My Life  |  Taraiwa Mataora

Drive My Life – Taraiwa Mataora is a community mentoring driver licensing

programme delivered to the vulnerable members of the Southland,

Whakatipu, and Fiordland communities. It teaches the necessary

knowledge and skills needed to obtain a learner, restricted and/or full

driver licence, reducing the number of unlicensed drivers on our roads,

therefore improving the safety of the wider network.
The Drive My Life programme (DML) fits well with Southern REAP’s mission

to facilitate opportunities for personal and community growth through life-

long and life-wide learning. It also fits well with our plan to engage with

hard-to-reach members of our community who often miss out on learning

opportunities. DML teaches not only driving theory and skills, but also

embeds literacy and numeracy in the lessons. We also see DML as

complementing other courses /programmes we offer.
At a personal level, obtaining a licence leads to a growth in confidence and self-esteem, a reduction in social and economic isolation and increases employment and educational opportunities. Holding a licence also lessens the risk of the participant entering the Justice system. We have observed a ripple effect as participants pass on skills, knowledge and understanding of gaining a licence with their whanau. This has in some cases lead to other members of the family wanting to become part of the programme and gain a licence.

Referral Based System

People are referred to the programme from an agency that they may be linked to. Each person referred to the programme is done so based on a very real need. Participants have various backgrounds, diverse needs and range from young people to older people. It is highly likely that the persons referred would not progress to get their licence without some form of social and/or financial help. One thing our participants have in common is that they come from a position without the means
or knowledge to help them and they have not been able to achieve their licence on their own. 

Course Framework

The Drive My Life Programme currently employs five coordinators, one Waihopai Admin Support Team Member, three

i-endorsed Professional Drivers, and an overall Manager across Murihiku/Whakatipu.

The Coordinators' role includes (but is not limited to):

  • accepting and processing referrals

  • day-to-day bookings of the Drive My Life cars

  • ensuring the Drive My Life cars are ready to go for a lesson (e.g., petrol, maintenance etc.)

  • introducing and matching the learner driver to the volunteer mentor and explaining the ground rules of the programme

  • ensuring all learners attend courses

  • assisting learners with identification documents

  • supporting facilitators

  • coordinating all of the resources for the programme.


The programme is then set out as follows...

Learners Licence

  • a trained facilitator meets the group of referred participants

  • class is run over four weeks at two hours per week

  • course content covers key elements of the road code, test technique, preparation, and practice, car safety, how to set up the car, and introduction to the DRIVE toolkit and resources for practising at home.

  • 8 - 10 participants per class catering for all learners’ abilities

  • supporting participants with their visit to the AA or VTNZ centres where they officially sit their learner’s licence test

Restricted and Full Licence

  • the restricted and full licence programme is a volunteer mentor-based process

  • initial drive is with instructor, mentor and learners to ensure there is a level of consistency and all feel comfortable in the car

  • participants are matched with a volunteer mentor and together they do practical driving to raise the skills and abilities of the participant

  • the mentor then works through the training booklet with the participant to ensure they are confident in each skill

  • includes introduction to DRIVE GO and WR app

  • final drive with instructor is held before participant takes the restricted or full test

  • a 5-star safety-rated vehicle is provided for the practical driving component in all areas.


Should a participant fail a test at any stage, the participant continues to be supported and a resit is offered.

Defensive Driving

Defensive Driving is an optional component of the Drive My Life programme. Participant costs are subsidised, thus making it achievable for participants to attend.

Volunteer Mentors

Volunteer mentors also play a key role, as they are the part of the Drive My Life programme that enables the vulnerable, at-risk participants the opportunity to get practical driving hours out on the roads. Mentors have the ability to support the drivers become safer, more confident, and drive-ready for our roads. Mentors partner with participants 1-2 times a week forming strong, positive relationships with them.

Mentors are also able to encourage participants to develop life skills such as time management and effective communication, and encourage goal setting. All of these skills are transferable into the workforce and wider community.

Goals and Purpose

The goal of Drive My Life is to empower referral-based participants by providing a supportive environment for them to gain the necessary knowledge and skills essential to obtaining a driver’s licence through the graduated licence system.
The success of the Drive My Life programme extends beyond the participant obtaining their full driver's licence. The individuals are equipped with increased knowledge of the road rules, receive professional instruction and complete a defensive driving course, giving them the tools needed to be much safer drivers on our roads.
Participant goals include employment and education opportunities, access to goods and services and the ability to connect with friends and family. The programme is not just about getting a licence it is making safe drivers with a licence and the ripple effect has been even more rewarding.



For general enquiries about Drive My Life, please contact Jonelle McDowall, our Drive My Life Manager -

or for Invercargill and Bluff, please contact Colleen Parkhill-Burke -

or for Eastern Southland, please contact Sheree Johnstone -

or for Central/Western Southland, please contact Lynley McKay -


or for Fiordland, please contact Leigh Simonsen -

or for Whakatipu, please contact Louise Ward -

Colleen Parkhill-Burke.jpg
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