AA and Driven announce Judging panel and criteria for bold new Awards

4 September 2018

AA and Driven announce Judging panel and criteria for bold new Awards

The New Zealand Automobile Association and NZME’s Driven are thrilled at the positive response to the new premier AA Driven New Zealand Car of the Year Awards for 2018.

This year’s AA Driven New Zealand Car of the Year Awards will pinpoint the country’s Car of the Year and Best in class, alongside the popular publically voted People’s Choice Award powered by Driven with winners announced at a cocktail event on 12 December.

AA Motoring Services General Manager Stella Stocks said the feedback on the new format has been overwhelmingly positive, with car manufacturers particularly pleased the vehicles will be rigorously tested by the country’s most experienced motoring journalists.

“The phone has been ringing off the hook with manufacturers keen to get their vehicle in for judging,  which will eventually see the top 10 finalists take part in a comprehensive trial both on road and at the Pukekohe Park Raceway in October. This gives the judges the opportunity to score from the driver’s seat and we believe there really is no better test than that.

“The criteria for what we believe will form the country’s most comprehensive Awards means that the vehicle must have been launched into the New Zealand market between October 1 last year and September 30 this year and be available for sale to the public,” Stella said.

“We are excited to be partnering with Driven because keen motorists will be able to follow all the stories behind the testing process. The AA Driven New Zealand Car of the Year Awards is set to be the highlight of the motoring calendar with a perfect blend of innovation, motoring excellence and expertise,” Stella added.  

Behind the wheel will be a panel of judges drawn from the country’s finest motoring journalists and the AA.

Chief Judge Liz Dobson is Driven’s Editor at Large and has been a motoring writer for 22 years including Motoring Editor for Next Magazine and Fashion Quarterly, before joining Driven at the magazine’s launch seven years ago, and she is often called upon to attend global launches.

Tony Verdon is both Editor of Driven print publications in the New Zealand Herald, and Editor of the website Driven.co.nz and is a former daily newspaper editor, publisher and general manager having worked on Driven for the past four years.

Matthew Hansen has been a journalist and photographer at Driven for the past three years and was a co-founder of the Velocity motorsport website.

Alastair Sloane has been a newspaper journalist for more than 40 years, and was Motoring Editor of the New Zealand Herald for 16 years.

Cameron Officer has been a motoring writer for 13 years, including editing Top Gear magazine and NBR’s Motoring Editor.

Paul Owen first started writing motoring feature stories in the mid-1980s, initially concentrating on motorcycles before widening his focus to include cars in the early 1990s. A six-time winner for best motoring feature in the Qantas Media Awards, he was soon supplying a stable of New Zealand newspapers with his freelance contributions. He first began writing for New Zealand Autocar magazine in 1995, and became its Chief Editor from 1998 until 2009. He was named Journalist of the Year in the 2007 AA Motoring Excellence awards.

Colin Smith is NZME Regional Motoring Editor, and his first motoring journalism experience came while still at school in the early 1980’s covering a wide range of motorsport events in the Waikato. Colin spent two years at the Waikato Times, before becoming Editor of the Bay of Plenty Times Auto Parade publication in 1987. He has been active in motorsport including rally co-driving at WRC level in New Zealand and Australia. 

Jacqui Madelin has been writing about vehicles in New Zealand for more than 25 years, starting out from a passion for motorcycles at Kiwi Rider Motorcycle Magazine, and then moving on to cars at New Zealand Autocar, before going freelance 16 years ago. She has had stints as Motoring Editor at the Sunday Star Times and Herald on Sunday. Jacqui writes car reviews for the AA, and is often seen in the car pages of AA Directions. She has also been a Qantas Media Award winner, and finalist twice. 

Cade Wilson has been an AA Motoring Advisor for the past four years reviewing cars and helping Members with expert advice. He brings a wealth of knowledge with 16 years as a mechanic and continued involvement in the New Zealand motorsport scene as mechanic crew, past driver and scrutineer.

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