Me and my car: Michael Barnett

By Donna McIntyre

Michael Barnett, NZ Order of Merit, is chief executive of the Auckland Regional Chamber of Commerce & Industry, director of the Auckland Chamber and NZ Chambers of Commerce & Industry and chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust. He drives a Nissan Qashqai but his heart belongs to an Audi TT.

Michael Barnett, NZ Order of Merit, started driving in a Morris Minor. Picture / Ted Baghurst
Michael Barnett, NZ Order of Merit, started driving in a Morris Minor. Picture / Ted Baghurst

What do you drive?

I drive a 2 litre, white 2013 Nissan Qashqai. I had previously owned a Nissan Murano which was 3.5 litre. I found it hard to justify the fuel consumption and cost so chose to downgrade. The Qashqai is still a good size, has some of the toys (GPS, leather seats) my previous car had but is fuel-efficient and therefore cost-efficient.

What is the main consideration if you are buying a car?

Cost, size, fuel efficiency.

What was the first car you owned?

A Morris Minor and I was around that 16- to 17-year-old age range. I paid about £90 for it (I'm not talking about English pounds, this was in New Zealand).

Your dream car ...

I had an Audi TT some years ago and loved it - I think I would like a new one.

It was a gorgeous colour, the Audi blues are a cool colour and I'm a blue person.

Who taught you to drive?

My father. He was patient, tolerant - but I knew to listen and do it his way.

Do you prefer manual or automatic?

In town I prefer an automatic - lots of traffic and you can just focus on the driving. On long trips, I like the responsiveness of a manual.

Most memorable road trip?

When I was really young, I travelled with a friend from Hamilton down the east coast to Wellington - sleeping on beaches and enjoying NZ - and crossed over to Nelson. It was an informal pub crawl!

How often do you clean your car?

Weekly and I always clean it on the outside but I try to put off the vacuuming if I think I can get away with it.

And what do you listen to in your car?

I listen to audio books - and anyone who wants to tell me how to drive or give me directions. (Not.)

What's a great day trip out of Auckland?

Awhitu Peninsula and Manukau Heads, it's a gorgeous part of the country and easy to get to as I live in South Auckland so it's an easy drive when I want to go out there for a walk.

Does what people drive influence how you perceive them?

It can.

What irritates you most about other drivers?

The lack of consideration. Driving at 60km/h when the limit is 100 and not moving to the side. People who weave in and out of traffic in peak times for little gain but putting others at risk. And big trucks bullying.

Would you rather drive in Auckland or take public transport?

Drive - public transport needs to get its offering right.

Who else is allowed to drive your car?

My wife.

Do you have a special number plate?

MFB. The F is not a swear word but stands for Francis. I have a daughter whose name is Madison so she's also MFB but she doesn't get to drive the car. She's 18 and she has done the written stuff for her licence but she won't even drive the ride-on mower.

Bikes and cars ... is there space for them both on New Zealand roads?

No - but we need to create that space. It should be fundamental to the planning and provision of roads in New Zealand. I am fortunate that in Franklin we have many cycle lanes but my statement stands.

- NZ Herald

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