17 Feb 2011

Maori not heeding drink-drive message

2:47 pm on 17 February 2011

The Automobile Association says drink-driving safety messages are not getting through to Maori.

Ministry of Transport figures show Maori made up 25% of the 389 road fatalities in 2009.

AA motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon says it appears the message not to drink and drive is failing to get through to Maori.

He says campaigns should be targetted at Maori in the same way advertisements for education and health have been.

However, the chair of Ngati Kahungunu Runanga in Hawke's Bay, Ngahiwi Tomoana, says the real problem is that some Maori do not have the literacy skills to get a driving licence.

He says those people drive illegally and can get into a downward spiral that is likely to include drink-driving offences.

Mr Tomoana says improving education and awareness would be more useful.

He says Wednesday's sentencing of a teenager who admitted causing the deaths of two of her passengers in Hawkes Bay in 2009 reflects a systemic problem for Maori.

Tuoho Marire Ta Christy, 17, had reluctantly agreed to drive six drunk friends home from a party even though she had also been drinking.

Christy was sentenced in the High Court in Napier to 10 months' home detention, 300 hours community work and disqualified from driving for seven years.