Update: PCDS

Follow-up report on PCDS – March 1, 2018 to July 31, 2019

John Benseman PhD

Critical Insight


From March 1, 2018 to July 31, 2019:

·        A total of 319 adults had participated in the PCDS programme.

·        75 % were female.

·        20.4% % were under 25 years, 39.1% were aged 25-34 years and 40.5% were 35+.

·        Enrolees came from 34 different ethnicities; only 3.0% were Pakeha.

·        They identified a total of 43 languages as their mother tongue; only 23.3% identified English as their mother tongue.

·        About two-thirds (61.6%) were New Zealand citizens, most of the rest held student visas

·        Enrolees had a range of previous driving experience, with a third saying they had ‘none’; 94.8% held New Zealand licences.

·        Sources of information about PCDS are diverse: friend/relatives, Facebook and community organisations (including PETER groups) are the most common sources. Very few are referred by government departments or employers.

·        To date, a total of 87 PCDS participants have passed their licence tests: 49 in 2018 and 38 so far in 2019.

·        Feedback on the PCDS service is overwhelmingly positive.

The typical participant in the PCDS programme has a New Zealand learner licence and has either no or little driving experience. Almost all speak a language other than English and most are New Zealand citizens. Their pass rates for full licences are match the New Zealand average and are probably above average for similar social groups.

In sum, PCDS is demonstrably successful in attracting and retaining a clientele that is culturally and socially diverse, with very strong representation from immigrant and refugee communities. The programme is clearly meeting the need for these communities to achieve restricted and full licencing requirements.



The Puketapapa Community Driving School (PCDS) began operations in December 2017 and then moved into full operation in March 2018. In order to give a full picture of its operations once it was fully underway, this report looks at the period from the beginning of March 2018 to the end of July 2019 (a period of 17 months).

The aim of this report is to review how PCDS is operating and provide information about the people who are using the service. It has not always been possible to gather complete data-sets from all the programme participants due to issues of confidentiality and language. In the current report, full data is available on 250 participants (78.4% of the total) and limited data on another 69 participants (21.6%). The total respondents’ data for each section of the report is shown in parentheses (n=).


PCDS participants are predominantly female (75%) (n=236).



In terms of age (n=235), the participants are reasonably evenly spread across the three age groups (under 25 yrs.: 20.4%), 25-34 yrs. (39.1%) and 35+ yrs. (40.5%).




A total of 301 participants (94.9% of the total group) recorded their ethnicity. Overwhelmingly, PCDS participants (292; 97.0%) are non-Pakeha. A total of 34 different ethnicities were recorded, with the largest groups being Filipino (85; 28.2%), Indian (53; 17.6%) and Burmese (16; 5.3%).

In keeping with their ethnic diversity, a wide range of first languages were recorded (n=232) by the participants (43 were languages other than English. Less than a quarter (23.3%) identified English as their mother tongue.

A total of 211 (66.6% of the total group) provided information about their immigration status. The two biggest categories were New Zealand citizens (130; 61.6%) and international students (68; 32.2%).

Below is the location of the enrolees: most (76: 66.6%) are from immediate suburbs, but a third are from outer areas, especially western Auckland (19: 21.0%).

In terms of current licences, only 22 (6.2%) held overseas licences, with the remainder being New Zealand ones.

Asked how much driving experience they had (n=231), the enrolees were evenly split among ‘none’, ‘basic’ (1-20 hours) and ‘good’ (20+ hours).

The enrolees heard about PCDS from a range of sources (n= 227), with the most common being a friend/relative (85; 37.4%), Facebook (59; 25.9%), PETER Group member (36; 15/8%) and Other community organisation (27; 11.9%).


To date, a total of 87 PCDS participants reported they have passed their licence tests: 49 in 2018 and 38 so far in 2019. PCDS is waiting to hear back from other PCDS participants to get more updates.

Feedback on the PCDS

A follow-up study of 24 former PCDS participants was carried out in September 2018. Additional feedback has also been collected from a further 29 participants since that date. Generally, the second lot of feedback has been very similar to what was reported previously and was again overwhelmingly positive.

Of the 29 in the second lot of feedback, 10 had since passed their test, one had failed and then passed, one had failed and the remainder (17) had yet to sit their tests. Asked about the delay in sitting their tests, six said they didn’t feel confident enough yet, one talked of the difficulties of fitting it in with Ramadan and the remainder did not identify anything specific.

Overall, the feedback about their experience with PCDS was very positive. Specific comments were usually made about the driving instructors (8) and using a mock test (2).

Asked what were their biggest challenges, three mentioned parallel parking, two mentioned negotiating roundabouts (especially multi-lane ones – 2) and one mentioned changing lanes.

There were two criticisms about two PCDS mentors. One mentor has since left the programme and the other has modified his vocal communication following feedback from the enrolee. But the great majority of comments about PCDS were positive. Below are some of the comments reported to the follow-up interviewers (some have been edited to clarify their comments):

The mentors have been wonderful.

The mentors were very clear and easy to understand. They remained calm and supportive and seemed like they cared.

The mock test helped me a lot to correct the wrong habits that I had before while driving. I want to say thank you to [X] for pointing out the faults that I needed to eliminate.

It is quite different when you decide to migrate to a different country. I wanted to drive ever since I arrived in New Zealand but I was afraid that I might violate some laws that might affect my stay in this country. I have consulted some friends and locals and kept asking about driving here in New Zealand but I wanted the real thing; for a professional to tell me and assess my skills as a driver. That was the sole reason why I went with PCDS. Knowing that they take care of migrants, I knew that I was in good hands. [X] became my instructor and was very helpful and patient with all the questions that I had. He clearly pointed out my mistakes and told me to practise, practise, practise. After a few weeks, I took the test and passed.

The instructors and mentors were very helpful and encouraging. [PCDS] is an affordable way to learn driving in New Zealand! I couldn’t imagine myself driving around in the past, but now here I am, on the road! Thanks to all the instructors and mentors, especially [X]! I couldn’t have done it without his teaching! I was almost giving up to learn, before I had lessons with him.

The PCDS instructors and mentors are very supporting and encouraging. I was particularly happy with having options to choose either female and male instructors/mentors. The PCDS team instructors/mentors are very respectful and culturally oriented to customers with different cultural backgrounds.

The mentors and instructors were very encouraging and gave a good advice to pass the test.

PCDS mentors helped her to gain confidence in driving and gave her good tips to pass in particular the instructor who did the mock test with

My mentor was strict about applying driving rules when practising so I made habit of them and passed the test.

They helped me to understand what it will be assessed in the test.

I learnt a lot from them.

For those who have passed their tests, the feedback about what it had meant for them included ‘freedom’ (2), confidence/independence (2), getting to work more easily (2), being able to get a job (1), not being dependent on a spouse for transport (1), having a valid ID (1) and no longer being fearful of being caught driving without a licence (1).

My life is better than before, I used to have an inconvenience not being able to drive. Now everywhere is accessible.

michael Smith