Hamilton Uber Nan Shelley Winiana provides a ride with a side of cookies

Publish Date
Wednesday, 29 November 2023, 1:22PM
Hamilton Uber Nan Shelley Winiana is sending her customers off with homemade shortbread. Photo / Danielle Zollickhofer

Hamilton Uber Nan Shelley Winiana is sending her customers off with homemade shortbread. Photo / Danielle Zollickhofer

Hamilton “Uber Nan” Shelley Winiana doesn’t just get people from A to B, she sends them off with homemade shortbread.

Winiana 70, has been an Uber Driver for five years, clocking up more than 27,700 trips and tonnes of five-star ratings - most of them for her homemade treats.

Giving away two pieces of shortbread after a ride started as a first-week gimmick.

“I thought I would have the same customers, but the next week I found I had different customers so I just carried it on.

“After a while, it became so popular, I thought ‘I can’t really stop now, because I’m getting very high rated’. If you look through my ratings, it’s all about the shortbread.”

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Winiana works six days a week, accepting about 24 rides a day. She spends her day off doing baking.

“I usually make five trays. The recipe is out of the Edmonds cookbook, the only thing I add is custard powder. Although a lot of young men [I pick up] ask me if I could put weed in it.”

Winiana started Ubering after she retired from being an office manager for a Hamilton engineering company.

“I needed something to do, I just got very bored at home.

“One of my friends went to an introduction [from Uber] and he said to me afterwards ‘You should become an Uber driver, you’d be great at it.’”

She signed up immediately and hasn’t looked back.

Winiana is a grandmother of 11, plus around 20,000 Uber passengers whom she connected with and said "adopted" her. Photo / Danielle Zollickhofer

“I love it. I just love the people I meet every day ... and I enjoy driving, so why not combine the two.”

Her customers range from students to celebrities.

“I picked up ... Teeks, he is a singer ... and a couple of All Blacks, but don’t ask me to name them. I think one of them was Dane Coles.”

Winiana’s daily encounters inspired her to start taking notes for a potential book.

“I’d call it ‘Memoirs of an Uber Driver’. I meet so many interesting people.

She recalled picking up a young man to take him to the nightclubs. He worked as a zoologist.


“He told me ‘I look after the little Blue Penguins. They are the stupidest creatures ... every day at least 10 planes fly over [the zoo] and [the penguins] all look up to the sky and then they fall over on their backs.’ His job is to pick them all up.”

Other memorable passengers included a young couple.

“Both of their [previous] partners had cheated with the other one’s spouse. The [partners that got cheated on] ended up messaging each other all the way through Covid and they ended up together.

“I meet some very inspiring people, too. There was this 76-year-old lady who survived liver cancer. She used to work as a fashion designer in Paris. She was a lovely, lovely lady, really inspiring.”

Winiana’s warm and welcoming personality has even led to customers calling her Uber Nan.

“People get into my car and they say I give off a nice vibe ... they say ‘It’s like getting dropped off by my grandmother’.”

This article was first published in the NZ Herald by Danielle Zollickhofer and is republished here with permission.

Danielle Zollickhofer is a multimedia journalist based in Hamilton. She joined NZME in 2021 and is writing for the Waikato Herald.

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