Sister's death inspires Christchurch pupil to take the 'naff' out of safety vests

2019-06-11 18:05:51

Eva Haerewa lost her sister in a cycle accident, and she also knows first-hand the dangers of being thrown from a bike.

The Christchurch South Intermediate pupil, along with friend Jazz Throman, 12, wants to encourage young cyclists to stay safe on the roads by reinventing the humble hi-vis vest, replacing the "naff" version with an eye-catching alternative.

In 2014, Eva's older sister Sharla Phylis Haerewa, 22, was killed when a truck driver turned his 10-tonne vehicle into her path at a Lincoln Rd intersection.

The driver didn't see her bike on the road, despite her riding in a cycle lane, using flashing lights and wearing a reflective backpack cover. John Herridge, then aged 75, admitted to careless driving causing Haerewa's death.

Last year, 12-year-old Eva was hit by a car while cycling to school. The accident inspired the girls' road safety initiative, a blue and pink surfer-inspired hang loose hand gesture and the message 'marutau - be safe', on the back of the traditional orange vests.

"I decided it was important to stand up and do something that could help save the lives of others, especially kids," Eva said.

It was crucial the design was seen as cool by other kids, Jazz said. The "that's naff" response to classic fluorescent vests sometimes stopped people from wearing them.

The school's youth worker, Holly McCormack, said she hoped more students would don the vests, get on their bikes and make use of the new cycle ways popping up throughout the city.

Over 75 vests had been gifted to pupils in a school assembly thanks to funding from Youth Voice Canterbury's Big Ideas Fund and the girls' wanted a screen printing company to come on board and help get more printed and distributed to other intermediate schools.

School principal Ross Hastings said breaking the "that's not cool" cycle and creating a habit was an initiative that could save lives.

NZ Transport Agency regional relationships director Jim Harland applauded the girls and said communities needed more initiatives to encourage safer biking practices.

Last year, five cyclists died on New Zealand roads, a figure already eclipsed this year with eight people killed in cycling incidents nationwide.

In March, Margaret Joan Lilley, from Canterbury's West Melton, died at Mangapurua Track, and Hamish Peter Cameron Grant, 50, died in the Christchurch Hospital on May 23 after a crash between a car and a bike at the intersection of Barbadoes St and Moorhouse Ave five days earlier.

Back to the top ^

Related Articles (30)