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Visitor driving petition gains traction

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/02/2017 Karen Sweeney

Judy Richards could be forgiven for spending the last year grieving the death of her son Rhys Middleton after he was hit and killed by an international driver last February.

Instead, the Tauranga woman has turned her grief into action, starting a campaign for requiring visitors intending to stay more than three months in New Zealand to pass a driving test.

It's an idea that has the backing of New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell.

Tuesday marks one year since 23-year-old Rhys was hit and killed by a car driven by Chinese national Jieling Xiao, 27, who was in New Zealand on a working visa.

Xiao had previously never driven in a rural environment or faster than 50km/h.

Ms Richards and Mr Mitchell have now started a petition calling for visitors given visas to stay longer than three months to be required to sit a full driver's test for a New Zealand driver's license.

It was a sensible approach, Mr Mitchell told NZ Newswire.

"Something needs to be done and I can't understand why the government has not done something. We're hoping this gets traction to get into the select committee stage."

The petition has already been signed more than 5400 times and will be received at parliament by NZ First leader Winston Peters on February 14.

Ahead of the anniversary Ms Richards described her pain as sometimes too hard to bear.

"That pain is still as raw as the day he was taken. That pain will never go away," she wrote on Facebook.

However, she hopes the licence requirement may prevent others suffering similar grief.

Xiao was initially jailed for 17 months for Mr Middleton's death but won an appeal to have that quashed and replaced with nine months' home detention and 150 hours' community work.

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