NZ Truck & Driver News

 
A reluctant award-winner

A reluctant award-winner

NZ Truck & Driver News

 February 2018   
Auckland transport operator Calven Bonney initially didn't want the Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit award, which was announced in the New Year's Honours.

When told of the award, "I was a no really," says the 66-year-old, who received the Order in recognition of his four decades-plus voluntary service to the trucking industry, plus his longtime involvement in motorsport.

He explains: "A huge worry is that, you know, you've never done enough – you've never achieved enough."

But, a few weeks after the award announcement, Bonney reckons: "I've got a bit used to it now – I'm not feeling quite so bad about it." He has, he says, had many "good people" reassure him it's a positive thing.

"I'm very appreciative of those people who put me forward obviously…the ones who told all the lies!"

Bonney started driving trucks at 18, began his own one-truck business at 22 or 23…and in 1984 bought the LW Bonney family business his grandfather had st

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Auckland transport operator Calven Bonney initially didn't want the Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit award, which was announced in the New Year's Honours.

When told of the award, "I was a no really," says the 66-year-old, who received the Order in recognition of his four decades-plus voluntary service to the trucking industry, plus his longtime involvement in motorsport.

He explains: "A huge worry is that, you know, you've never done enough – you've never achieved enough."

But, a few weeks after the award announcement, Bonney reckons: "I've got a bit used to it now – I'm not feeling quite so bad about it." He has, he says, had many "good people" reassure him it's a positive thing.

"I'm very appreciative of those people who put me forward obviously…the ones who told all the lies!"

Bonney started driving trucks at 18, began his own one-truck business at 22 or 23…and in 1984 bought the LW Bonney family business his grandfather had started 36 years before. It comprised just three trucks. Under his guidance the fleet's grown to over 100 trucks.

But Bonney, a past president of National Road Carriers and a board member for 44 straight years, reckons: "I'm just as proud of National Road Carriers as I am of anything. It's taken up a large part of my life – and I let it, because I like the challenge of it."

Similarly, he also played a key role in the establishment of the Road Transport Forum in 1997 – bringing together seven individual trucking organisations to give 5000 trucking companies a single voice in Wellington, to deal with government: "Getting the Forum together was probably the highlight."

He's been on the RTF board since its inception and was its chairman from 2000 to 2002 and it remains a Bonney ambition "to see the industry united, with one industry group – to continue where we set out to go with the Forum."

NRC CEO David Aitken says Bonney is well known for providing advice and acting as a sounding board for road transport operators and has championed improvements in the overall professionalism of the industry and fostered strong working relationships for the industry with government agencies and authorities.

Bonney's passion for motorsport saw him start out crewing for other drivers, including 1967 F1 world champion Denny Hulme, before becoming a winner in his own right in speedway midgets and TQs. Much later he switched to circuit racing – in racetrucks, Super GTs and Formula 5000.

In motorsport he's probably best known for his role in the early days of truck racing in NZ – building an International PayStar racetruck to support the launch of the sport here…

And soon becoming The Entertainer of the truck racing scene – delighting the huge crowds with totally un-PC, tyre-smoking truckie/cop "chases" with the CVIU's Sgt Brian Locke – regularly ending up with Bonney doing do-nuts in the Inter and Locke handcuffed to a patrol car!

Says Bonney: "Nobody's had that much fun in anything before!" He always saw it, he says, as a way to present a new image of the transport industry to the public – and to improve relations between the industry and the CVIU: "And I think we achieved that."

Bonney is a longtime Festival of Motorsport sponsor and transport provider and has also been a keen Variety Club Bash supporter, participant and fundraiser.

Remarkably, given the size of the Bonney business, he still drives trucks – in fact, "every day for the last three or four months." That's a result of the chronic shortage of drivers – but it's not that he minds really: "I still love driving me truck (a 535hp Mack Trident 8x4 truck and trailer tanker unit)."


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