National | Drink

'Stop a mate driving drunk, legend'

A bilingual campaign to curb drink-driving is taking a different approach, targeting mates to team up, to look after each other and intervene before letting each other drive drunk.

Tairāwhiti Roads Safety Educator Dianne Akurangi says the East Coast has the second highest rate of drink driving in the country and is predominantly Māori males.

'Stop a mate driving drunk, legend'. That's the message from Tairāwhiti Road Safety.

“Ultimately the campaign aims to show that intervening makes you a really good mate, true mates don't let mates drive drunk”, says Dianne Akurangi.

The campaign aims to target Māori males from 24-34 years.

“In the last 12 months, multiple people have died in crashes in Te Tairāwhiti as a result of drinking and driving or where alcohol has been a factor in those crashes,” says Tairāwhiti Road Police Sergeant Dean Ploughman.

Tairāwhiti Iwi Liaison Officer, Sgt. Rob Rutene says, “We're catching a number of people driving drunk each week. We had 28 last week and that's no good.”

Tairāwhiti Police are looking to work further with iwi and support services to implement a strategy that identifies community and family role models to help change the trend of driving intoxicated.

“It's cultural and intergenerational, it goes from one generation to the next,” says Rutene.

Sgt. Dean Ploughman says that there is an attitude in Te Tairāwhiti that drinking and driving is acceptable.

“That drinking and driving is OK because we live in a small city and they're not going far, and in a culture that really drinking to excess is OK, so we're trying to address that,” says Ploughman.

Bilingual billboards can be seen around Gisborne and up the East Coast in an effort to raise awareness among Māori communities.

Akurangi says, “Previous campaigns we've decided to target it at the driver themselves, with this one it's a little bit different we're focusing on the mates, we think that they're a big influence on these people's lives and they could be a game-changer for them.”

A fatigue stop will be put on by Tairawhiti Roads and emergency response teams tomorrow for people heading to Gisborne.