Open Road

The Open Road programme aims to help refugee background people to get their restricted licence. Being able to learn to drive is important to many former refugees for access to work, as well as to support their greater participation in their wider communities.  Having your licence supports longer terms goals of employment and independence. Learning to drive can be difficult without a car or a person to help teach driving skills.

Currently our programme is based in Porirua city.

How the programme works

Over 12-20 weeks, mentors provide 2-3 hours’ worth of lessons per week in a dual control car (provided) in addition to a number of lessons from a qualified driving instructor. 

The learner will be assessed on a monthly basis and when considered ready to sit the test will be given a mock test prior to sitting the real thing. 

Want to be considered for the programme?

Applications for 2019 are now CLOSED.    If you want to be considered for the programme in 2020 you can email your contact details (name, email address, postal address and phone no) to   We will keep your details and advise you when applications re-open.

Remember  to be eligible you  must already hold your learner licence. You must also have a good level of English and some driving experience. 

Keen to help as a volunteer driving mentor?

The programme is currently running in Porirua – so please particularly get in touch if you are able to help there. We would love to hear from you!  You will need to have held a full clean driver licence for two+ years and be available to help a former refugee practice driving twice a week for one hour. We will provide a dual control car to practice in (you don’t need to use your own!),  give you training and driving instructor support. The Open Road programme is also running in Palmerston North, Nelson, Dunedin, Hamilton and Auckland – if you want to volunteer in one of those regions, you can find information here.

Please complete the Driving Mentor application form and Police Vetting form and return them to 

Need to know more? Contact 

Our sponsors and the history of the programme

The programme is possible due to the generosity of Wellington volunteers who commit their time to help our former refugee learners practice their driving. It’s their support, patience and encouragement that helps our learner’s get their full licence.

We also express our thanks to the support for the programme from Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment and Immigration New Zealand. As part of developing the New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy consultation with refugee background communities was held in May 2013. Former refugees were asked about the most helpful activities for newly arrived refugees at Mangere Refugee Centre and about the best ways to help them transition into their new communities.  

From there, the Refugee Driver Training Programme was launched in Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington & Nelson. ChangeMakers Resettlement Forum runs the Wellington programme.