Shar­ing a car for 33 years

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

A Ti­tahi Bay car­pool has sur­vived a mo­tor­way break­down, a gun­man and even one mem­ber’s twodoor car to be­come what is prob­a­bly New Zealand’s old­est car share.

In 33 years there have been more than 25 mem­bers of the car­pool, which drives from the Bay to Wellington city and back ev­ery work­day. It was founded in 1980 by Gloam­ing Hill man Brian Ko­rte as a re­sponse to Mul­doon­era oil shocks and ‘‘car­less days’’.

Cur­rent mem­bers Si­mon Gill, Tony South­ern, Peter May, Alvin Blyde and Shane Wratt have clocked up seven decades of mem­ber­ship be­tween them. Most were re­cruited through word of mouth, al­though Mr Wratt found the group through the gov­ern­men­trun web­site Let’s Car­pool.

Each mem­ber drives their car one day a week, and the group shares a car park in the city.

Sav­ing money is not the only rea­son for shar­ing a ride – the car­pool is eco-friendly and the group have be­come firm friends.

‘‘It works so well. It feels good,’’ Mr Wratt said.

The car­pool group or­gan­ise bar­be­cues, and have done a sail­ing course and the Adrenalin For­est high- wire chal­lenge to­gether.

Since Out­ward Bound man­ager Mr Wratt joined three years ago, half the group have at­tended the Marl­bor­ough out­doors pro­gramme.

With mem­bers work­ing in fields as di­verse as telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and insurance, they can solve any prob­lem a fel­low car­pooler might have, Mr Gill said.

‘‘It’s amaz­ing, when is­sues come up, be­tween us we have spe­cial­ists in ev­ery­thing. We’ll help each other.’’

That’s not to say the mates run out of small talk on oc­ca­sion, Mr Blyde said.

‘‘Some morn­ings it’s chat­ter all the way; other morn­ings it’s like a church.’’

The car­pool has had some scrapes and close calls over the years – in the 1980s the car nearly ran into the op­po­site lane try­ing to avoid a crash ahead.

A few years ear­lier the group broke down com­ing up the Ngau­ranga Gorge, and had to be res­cued by a mem­ber’s wife.

‘‘It wasn’t a good mo­ment,’’ Mr Gill said.

The most dra­matic mo­ment, how­ever, was in the early 1990s, when a po­lice search for a gun­man blocked the south­bound route into the city. The car­pool had to travel to work via Hay­wards Hill, ar­riv­ing in town at noon.

There is no vet­ting process to al­low new mem­bers into the car­pool, al­though a roomy car is al­ways wel­come, Mr South­ern said.

‘‘I once got frowns when I took my wife’s two- door car. That wasn’t fun.’’

Photo: AN­DREA O’NEIL

Record-break­ing: Ti­tahi Bay car­pool mem­bers, from left: Peter May, Si­mon Gill, Tony South­ern, Alvin Blyde and Shane Wratt.

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