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AA's 1 Millionth Member - Images

Media release
17 November 2003


Caption: Ben and Amanda Cowman

The New Zealand Automobile Association celebrated its Centenary in March, and it has just achieved another major milestone - its 1 millionth Member.

Taupo's Ben Cowman, 31, was "blown away" to be the lucky 1 millionth Member. He only recently returned from London with his British wife Amanda. Ben, a dental technician, is looking for a job and he and his wife are expecting their first child in February.

"I'm just an average bloke who hasn't ever been singled out for anything before. This is pretty awesome. Before I went overseas, I used to be an AA Member. I remember breaking down in my Datsun 120Y late one night in the Manawatu near Shannon and the AA sorted me out in about half an hour. It was really good."

AA President Graeme Nind noted that Ben chose to rejoin the AA for two very good reasons.

"He wanted to ensure they had breakdown protection, especially with a baby on the way! They also wanted to get an AA prepurchase Vehicle Inspection done on a car they were looking to buy, and they wanted to get the AA discount," said Graeme. "We're delighted that Ben was our 1 millionth Member." The AA reached 1 million Members on 30 October. The AA alerted staff at its 46 Centres, the Road Service call centre and Business call centre that day to advise them that the next Members who joined would be amongst the first "millionth" Members. Ben's name was later drawn as the "official 1 millionth Member."

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Ben and his wife will receive accommodation in Wellington and a rental car - a far cry from the Combi van that they spent many months in while travelling across Europe. They will also receive an AA Plus Membership, 500 AA Reward Points and a limited edition copy of 100 Years of Motoring in New Zealand. The other Members in the draw also received gifts and will be honoured locally.

The Transport Minister Paul Swain says he is delighted at the milestone reached by the Automobile Association. "The 1 millionth Member reinforces the importance of the AA in New Zealand's motoring history, and shows how highly valued it is by motorists. Congratulations to Ben on your membership in this not-so-exclusive club; and to all other AA Members and staff of the AA, can I wish you safe and happy motoring."


Caption: AA President Graeme Nind, Minister of Transport Paul Swain, Ben Cowman.


General Information

* 1903 - The AA traces its roots to 1903 when seven motorists met at the home of Dr George de Clive Lowe and agreed to form the Auckland Automobile Association. Canterbury Association is formed later this year.

* 1904 - Nelson AA is formed and AA launches its 'Better Roads' Campaign

* 1905 - Otago and Wellington clubs are formed

* 1906 - AAA holds its first 'reliability trial' from Auckland to Wairakei

* 1907 - 1913 clubs are formed in Wanganui, Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa, Marlborough, South Canterbury

* 1920 - South Island Associations combine into South Island Motor Union

* 1923-1924 - Clubs form in North Otago, Taranaki; North Island Associations form North Island Motor Union; AAA Technical Service begins offering vehicle inspections

* 1929 - AAA starts road patrols

* 1931 - Members pool their cars to help with disaster relief after the catastrophic earthquake in Napier

* 1965 - The New Zealand Automobile Association is formed to coordinate services nationwide. AA establishes the Emergency Breakdown Service

Membership Growth

* 1940 - Membership reaches 103,000

* 1960 - Membership reaches 326,000

* 1980 - Membership reachers 562,000

* 1990 - Membership reaches 646,000

* 2000 - Membership reaches 873,000

* 2003 - AA Celebrates 100 years of service to Members and its 1 millionth Member - Ben Cowman

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