Northern Hawke’s Bay residents line up for new community driver testing


Wairoa and Nuhaka community members are now able to take their full driver licence test through the town’s new community-led driver licensing programme provided by Tairāwhiti REAP.

The Growing Drivers Locally (GDL) programme has been successfully running in rural Gisborne and the East Coast for a number of years. The programme helps people to gain a restricted or full Class 1 licence and is open to students of any age living in rural Tairāwhiti, and now includes Wairoa and surrounding communities.

The GDL2Wairoa programme has been launched officially this week, at Tairāwhiti REAP’s new Wairoa office.

Tairāwhiti REAP Manager, Ani Pahuru-Huriwai says the programme is pleased to bring this kaupapa to Wairoa and surrounding communities, particularly after the cyclone has left a lasting impact on families.

“Being able to gain their driver licences locally here in Wairoa, fully subsidised through our GDL programme, will be a game changer for many."

To provide greater flexibility for students on the GDL2Wairoa programme, Wairoa local Cheryl Te Amo, has been contracted to provide dedicated practical licence testing for Tairāwhiti REAP students. Cheryl will be supported by Mere Mill, a fellow community driver testing officer in Gisborne/East Coast.

Cheryl and Mere are two of 16 community driver testing officers in New Zealand, a new role introduced last year by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. Cheryl has already started testing, as more than 70 people are booked to sit the test through the GDL programme.

Vehicle Testing NZ provides practical driver testing for the general public and has been operating in Wairoa since December 2022 when a test route was re-established in the town.

Waka Kotahi Director of Regional Relationships Linda Stewart says a driver licence opens the door to opportunities like jobs, training and much more.

“We know some people face barriers in getting their licence, whether that’s because of the cost or the availability of driver testing services close by.

“Providing the new community driver testing officer model for Wairoa is another way Waka Kotahi can support improved access to driver licensing services.”

CDTO background

The community driver testing officer or CDTO role was introduced in mid-2022, to give extra support as well as dedicated testing time, to people who face a number of disadvantages in getting a driver licence.

To date, over 2,000 people have sat a test through a CDTO across the North Island. The pass rate is 89% across both restricted and full driver licence tests.

Providing communities with new practical driver testing routes and community-based services are some of the first solutions from the cross-agency Driver Licensing Improvement Programme, led by Waka Kotahi.

Enquiries for places on the GDL2Wairoa programme can be made through Tairāwhiti REAP to, or by visiting the Tairāwhiti REAP office at 232 Marine Parade, Wairoa.