It just got a whole lot easier — and potentially cheaper — to get your driver’s licence. From this month, Waka Kotahi is scrapping retest fees for licences. And with only about half of people passing on their first attempt, this means a lot of savings for new drivers.

Lacking a driver’s licence is one of the biggest barriers to employment for many young Māori and Pasifika people.

Even if you’re not driving as part of your job, most employers want to know you can run errands to and from the site. Also, other licences, such as a forklift licence for warehouses, rely on you having your full licence first. It really does change your options.

The process starts with a theory test for your Learner licence, and there are plenty of resources to help you prepare and feel confident. You can read more about the process in our earlier blog

MPTT navigators are ready to support you in getting your licence as part of the scholarship’s Work Readiness programme. They’re always ready to give you advice on where to start. In some cases, MPTT will be able to provide you with financial help and our navigators can share ideas on how to prepare for the test. Our partners can often help, too. 

Latu Puloka leads OCA’s team of Navigators, who walk alongside students and their families, helping as needed.

He explains, “Our goal is to put them into employment once they graduate with us.

Reliable transport is one of the most important parts of their employment success. In fact, many roles require a full licence for you to apply.

Latu says getting a licence can be especially difficult for the young people he works with. To get your licence, you need to have access to a computer, resources and help to prepare, a car to practice in and somewhere safe and supportive to do it. OCA is taking care of all of this.

MPTT student from OCA working towards earning his drivers license in New Zealand

“We bring in specialists to develop a work plan to prepare each person for the first Learner’s test. They have a one-on-one session where they’re shown the website and how to practice the questions. 

“Each week, we check in on their progress. When they’re confident and ready, we take them to sit the test and cover the cost of it. If they miss out, we’ll get them ready and support them to re-sit.”

Once people have their learners, OCA keeps them on the road towards their practical test.

“We have someone come in with a car and give lessons – until they’re confident and ready to take the test for their restricted licence.” 

Latu says it’s a huge milestone for people when they get their restricted licence, but it’s gaining their full licence that takes them the whole way.

“Too many young people stop progressing once they get their restricted. But we really encourage our learners to get their full. That gives them much more freedom legally but also a whole lot more opportunity. 

“All classes of heavy vehicle licences rely on you having a full licence first. That’s why we keep helping people get to the next stage once they’ve done their restricted with us.”

With the fee changes from Waka Kotahi starting in October, now is a great time to prioritise your licence. For those tradies and trainees who are still to get their full licence, it’s worth putting it back on the radar.