Calven Bonney – the New Zealand Order of Merit recognises his more than 40 years of voluntary service to the trucking industry and his involvement in motorsport
Industry statesman recognised in New Year’s Honours
Calven Bonney, the prominent Auckland road transport operator, has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours list, being made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM).
The award for the larger-than-life Mr Bonney recognises his more than 40 years of voluntary service to the trucking industry and his involvement in motorsport. He is highly regarded for his willingness to put the needs of the industry ahead of those of his own business.
Mr Bonney has been a National Road Carriers (NRC) board member since 1974 for 44 uninterrupted years and was its president between 1997 and 2000. He also played a key role in the formation of the Road Transport Forum (RTF) in 1997. The RTF brought together the seven individual trucking organisations which re presented 5000 trucking companies to represent the road transport industry from its headquarters in Wellington. He has served on the RTF’s board since its inception and was its chairman from 2000 to 2002.
Making roads safer for trucking
Mr Bonney’s work with the NRC has focused on the development of the organisation to provide all members, whether they have one truck or a fleet of hundreds, with the support, expertise and scale to run their businesses safely, effectively and successfully.
He is well known for providing counsel, advice and a sounding board for all road transport operators, and has helped the NRC negotiate the many supplier agreements and discounts for services provided to the organisation’s members.
Through his work with the RTF, Mr Bonney has worked with both national and local government to ensure the road transport industry has a voice to usher through regulatory changes and to make roads safer and easier to use for trucking.
He has championed improvements in the overall professionalism of the industry and fostered strong working relationships for the industry with the New Zealand Transport Agency, the New Zealand Police Commercial Vehicle Safety Team (formally the Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit), the Ministry of Transport and other local and regional authorities.
Championing truck racing
Passionate about motorsport, Mr Bonney started out crewing for other drivers, including Formula One world champion driver Denny Hulme, and then raced at the speedway in most classes before getting involved in Super GTs, endurance events and Formula 5000.
But he is perhaps best known for his involvement in the establishment of truck racing in New Zealand, helping to negotiate rights from international promoters to start the sport here, and then building his own truck for the first season to make sure the sport got off the ground with as many trucks racing as possible.
As a long-time sponsor of the annual Festival of Motorsport, Mr Bonney has made sure that millions of dollars of historic cars make it off the ships, through customs and are ready to race.
He has also been a keen supporter of the Variety Club and was a regular participant in its events for more than 15 years, raising significant funds for the charity.
On a personal level, after selling his first three trucks in 1981, Mr Bonney went on to buy his father’s and uncle’s business in 1984 at a time when it had three trucks. Today, LW Bonney & Sons runs over 100 trucks from its company base on Great South Road in Penrose, Auckland, servicing a variety of customers in different industries.
The fleet includes four B-trains and what Mr Bonney loosely refers to as “all sorts of odds and ends” – from tankers made for very specific jobs, such as carting vegetable oil from the wharf to packing houses and margarine manufacturers, to around 80 trailers and loaders.
The variety in the gear shows in the five or six swing-lifts, skeletal trailers, flat tops, container-tipping trailers, tippers used for bulk metal, others for scrap and yet another dedicated to chicken poop – namely carting it from chicken farms and putting it on farmland.
The New Zealand Order of Merit was established by royal warrant on 30 May 1996 by Queen Elizabeth II “for those persons who in any field of endeavour have rendered meritorious service to the Crown and nation, or who have become distinguished by their eminence, talents, contributions or other merits”.