After Suzanne left home we got back into a new routine. Simon and I were still going to Kohanga every day. One day Manuhopokia came in very excited. They were going to set a course to train mothers to work in Kohanga.
Back then the government had Access courses for people to develop new skills in a wide range of areas. This was slightly different it was called Maccess and targeted to Maori. She wanted everyone to apply. The training would run from the Kohanga though there would be language class up at polytech for one day a week and that was open to all the Kohanga in the area.
I said, well that rules me out, I am not Maori, but she said no, it is open to anyone who has children at Kohanga. I went home and talked to Marty and came back the next day and applied. I was really surprised but I got it. We were paid $100 a week to attend.
Marty and I talked about what we should do with the extra money. That was easy, I would finally learn to drive.
I had had driving lessons when I was in my late teens. The instructor was awful. At one stage it started raining and he told me to turn the windscreen wipers off. I watched them and waited for them to get to the bottom before I turned them off. He started yelling at me, turn them off. What he didn’t know was, I didn’t realise they were automatic, I was trying to hit the button at the right time. So I gave up.
Hilary’s sister Barbara gave me a couple of lessons and Marty gave me one but it just didn’t seem to work. I rang the companies in the book. I wanted a calm lady instructor who would have lots of patience. I found someone really lovely.
I must have had about 12 lessons in the end. It was hard trying to do everything at the same time but she had lots of patience and skill and finally I was ready to sit my test. The written test was fine but I failed one of the oral questions. Just never occurred to me that you could have a stop sign and a give way at the same intersection. But you were allowed to miss one question so I passed.
The instructor knew how things worked in Tauranga. She made me apply at the County Council rather than the City Council. This meant that I was have my test in Greerton, rather than in the middle of town. I was really nervous, but the officer was nice and gave me simple instructions on what he wanted me to do. Mostly I didn’t want to stall on the roundabout.
I didn’t stall, and everything went quite smoothly. Once I was through the roundabout, we went into the racecourse and drove around there. It was actually very easy. especially parallel parking with no other cars around to hit. Probably haven’t done a parallel park since mind you.
Once I had my licence, I used the money I was getting to buy a car. It was Heta’s old mini. It was pretty old and battered but it was mine. Just after I got it, I had my first of the only two accidents I have had.
I was driving down Cameron Road in rush hour. I hated Cameron Road, I was coming up to the hospital and there was an idiot on my tail trying to pass. He finally got passed and sped off, though the traffic was so thick he didn’t get far. A man in a wheelchair was going onto the crossing. He fell out of his wheelchair and everyone but me stopped. I went into the guy in front.
I followed him around the corner and burst into tears. He was really angry but I managed to give him my phone number and told him that my husband would sort out the insurance stuff. I think he felt a little sorry for me.
I went home still crying. Marty thought something terrible had happened. Well, I thought it had. He was very sympathetic as usual and sorted out insurance and stuff, The mini had very little damage.
Being able to drive made a huge difference. For the first time I had the freedom to go where I wanted to without depending on others. And I love driving. I will drive anywhere and everywhere. I can even drive in Auckland on the motorway something I never thought I would ever do. I do get lost sometimes, even with a GPS but eventually I find my way.
But I have to admit, I have had a few speeding tickets. And I hate throwing away money. So I try really hard to stick to the speed limit.
Driving is and always be pure pleasure for me and I hope it will always stay that way.
© Barbara Hart 2014