This week we reveal our finalists for the Herald's New Zealander of the Year - with a focus on our bright young stars.

When Ben Uffindell was told someone had taken him seriously, he laughed out loud.

He had written a story for The Civilian, the satirical website poking fun at the Act Party he set up in February.

In the faux article, The Civilian reported Act had set up an investigation to find out how leader John Banks had become its leader.

"What the f*** are we doing? Why is that man our leader?" he (falsely) quoted Act president John Boscawen asking.


When it filtered back that a journalist had called Mr Boscawen and asked about the inquiry, it was a confirmation for Mr Uffindell, 22, on two points.

First, The Civilian really was as good as it was being talked up to be. Second, the media deserved every bit of merciless lampooning he could muster.

The site was set up with the media as its "primary target" although politicians are the subjects of Mr Uffindell's spoof stories.

An early legal letter from Conservative leader Colin Craig attracted media attention. His later attendance at the Labour Party conference had him rubbing shoulders with the Press Gallery after new Labour leader David Cunliffe smoothed the way for him to attend.

In short, he's not impressed. "I feel worse about the media than I ever have. People in the media are good people. They're better people on the whole than I would have imagined. But they're worse at their jobs than I imagined they would be."

He has no single favourite piece.

The success of the website has been overwhelming, at times, even if some misunderstand it. "I try to tell people The Civilian is not a force for good. It is to amuse you and to make you think about things."

To have your say on who should be New Zealander of the year go here.