A course to steer those with driving convictions in the right direction has been such a huge success in Northland the number of tutors is being boosted.

Last week the New Zealand Howard League for Penal Reform celebrated a year of operating it's driver licensing program in Northland with funding having been confirmed for another year.

The Howard League received $7.5 million from the Provincial Growth Fund in mid-2018 to expand its driver's licence programme in targeted regions across the country, including Northland.

In that year 562 licences, across a number of license classes, were given to 338 ex-offenders of which the Department of Corrections placed 120 in work.


Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said it was an exceptional figure given the target for the year was only 200 licenses.

Sixty-nine per cent of the 338 who got their licence identified themselves as Māori.

Jones said as most entry level jobs required a driver's licence, it would improve the employment prospects of participants significantly and the Howard League was providing ex-offenders a second chance to get back on the straight and narrow.

"A driver's licence also provides ex-offenders with identification for situations such as signing up for a rental property or a bank account, and other important steps for reintegration back into society.

"The regions are a safer and more prosperous place with fewer unlicensed drivers and more young people able to benefit from the economic opportunities being created under this Government," Jones said.

Mike Williams, chief executive of NZ Howard League, said the programme had many benefits including safer driving and more legal drivers.

He said the program had started with one tutor in Whangārei, which had risen to two and just three weeks ago another tutor started work in Kaitaia.

They were seeking another tutor to start in Kaikohe in six weeks and encouraged anyone who thought they might fit the bill to contact the Howard League.


"The demand for this course seems to be endless in Northland. There is definitely a need for four tutors in the region," Williams said.

The price of obtaining a licence was prohibitive for most young people he said.

In Northland the lack of public transport could contribute to the number of young people clocking up licence indiscretions.

"If you live in a small rural community, which are dotted all over Northland, you either drive or you don't go anywhere," Williams said.

The programme runs from four to eight weeks depending on the needs of the driver.

There is up to a 90 per cent pass rate as people are not put forward for the test unless they are ready.

"For these people it's a new start on life and is a silver bullet."