Cup a bright spot in year of gloom

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS FEATURE -

The earthquake Fe­bru­ary’s earthquake, in the Welling­ton re­gion any­way, was a story that played out at a slow, aw­ful, end­less pace.

Reg­u­lar news of af­ter­shocks fol­low­ing the Septem­ber 2010 non­lethal quake had numbed most in New Zealand to cov­er­age of shakes in Can­ter­bury.

So on Fe­bru­ary 22, af­ter 12.51pm, when the very first sto­ries told of a sig­nif­i­cant af­ter­shock, many took it as just an­other quake story.

For many the first inkling of the quake’s grav­ity came from texts, tweets, smart­phone video that told of some­thing much worse than Septem­ber. Christchurch and its sur­rounds would not es­cape with­out deaths this time.

In the end the 6.3 quake, cen­tred near Lyt­tle­ton, claimed 181 lives and left swathes of the city dam­aged be­yond re­pair. Many of the deaths hap­pened in a hand­ful of dev­as­tated com­mer­cial premises like the Can­ter­bury Tele­vi­sion build­ing and Pyne Gould Cor­po­ra­tion build­ing.

The cost has been es­ti­mated at be­tween $ 20 bil­lion and $ 30 bil­lion, and its eco­nomic im­pact is still be­ing dis­cov­ered as New Zealand inches for­ward on re­build­ing the city. The eco­nomic slump If the hor­ror of the Christchurch quake was not im­me­di­ately vis­i­ble to the rest of the coun­try, then the on­go­ing story of the global eco­nomic slump and its ef­fects in New Zealand were even more ag­o­nis­ingly slow.

The nev­erend­ing Euro zone

National leader John Key an­nounces his party’s Min­is­te­rial line up in Par­lia­ment. soap opera with po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions from in­debted na­tions like Greece set­ting off fi­nan­cial panic, and a slug­gish US eco­nomic per­for­mance, mean there is no sin­gle ref­er­ence date for this story. There is just a year- long malaise that in­cludes New Zealand’s dou­ble credit-rat­ing agency down­grade – in Septem­ber – and con­stant sto­ries of the real es­tate in­dus­try re­cov­er­ing then back­slid­ing.

In Novem­ber, prop­erty sales were up na­tion­wide but still tens of thou­sands be­hind on sales for the same time in 2007. Youth un­em­ploy­ment rates re­mained locked in the 20 per cents through­out the year.

The trig­ger for the global slump might be found in the US sub­prime mort­gage dis­as­ter: a glut of bad loans, bun­dled up and sold to un­sus­pect­ing in­vestors; and sim­ply too much spend­ing us­ing bor­rowed money. But that played out sev­eral years ago. No gen­uine re­cov­ery has hap­pened and this year New Zealand felt the chill of con­stant eco­nomic uncer­tainty. The Rugby World Cup On Oc­to­ber 23 the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup. The vic­tory against France at Eden Park halted a decades-long run of dis­ap­point­ments for fans and play­ers since the last Cup vic­tory in 1987.

It also capped off the All Black coach­ing ca­reer of Gra­ham Henry who had kept his job af­ter his team was stran­gled out of the ‘07 Cup – los­ing to France in the quar­ter fi­nals. In the end, this year’s win might have vin­di­cated his re­s­e­lec­tion.

Af­ter six years of Henry, the All Blacks beat a dis­mal, un­set­tled French side by a sin­gle point, 8-7, with the re­sult hing­ing on a penalty kick from the most dis­liked first-five in New Zealand, Stephen Don­ald.

Don­ald was the fourth-in-line for the job af­ter star Dan Carter was in­jured out of the tour­na­ment. Carter’s re­place­ment was Colin Slade – a ques­tion­able squad se­lec­tion by Henry.

Then Slade was in­jured and him­self re­placed by Aaron Cru­den.

Cru­den proved to be an ex­cel­lent en­forced se­lec­tion for the All Blacks and the young­ster also looked a promis­ing even­tual re­place­ment for Carter. Then, in the fi­nal, Cru­den was in­jured out of the game.

Num­ber four, Don­ald ran on and slot­ted the kick, seal­ing the match for the All Blacks.

The vic­tory like the tour­na­ment it­self gave many New Zealan­ders a hol­i­day from the gloom. The elec­tion New Zealand’s gen­eral elec­tion was a quick af­fair in 2011.

earthquake. Cam­paign­ing was squeezed be­tween the end of the Rugby World Cup on Oc­to­ber 23, and elec­tion day on Novem­ber 26.

The re­sult was an em­phatic win for National and John Key, a crush­ing de­feat for Phil Goff and Labour and a very nar­row loss for the Left in gen­eral.

New Zealand’s first celebrity PM, Key nearly car­ried his party to an out­right ma­jor­ity un­der the MMP sys­tem, fin­ish­ing with 59 seats in the 121-seat Par­lia­ment. He struck deals with ACT, United Fu­ture and the Maori Party to en­sure a National Govern­ment for the next term.

Goff was the Anti-key. De­spite ap­pear­ing to be a de­cent, hard­work­ing and knowl­edge­able politi­cian, his lead­er­ship was so toxic it split the Left vote: push­ing vot­ers to­wards the Greens, who ended up with 14 seats.

The fi­nal re­sults of the elec­tion showed the bones of a coali­tion of Left and cen­tre par­ties rang­ing from NZ First to the Greens and Mana, that could have formed a – frag­ile, ad­mit­tedly – govern­ment.

In­stead, on De­cem­ber 14 Key was sworn in as PM, and David Shearer was en­joy­ing his first day as new Labour leader af­ter beat­ing David Cun­liffe for the job.


Key leader:

Tower down: The re­mains of Christchurch Cathe­dral tower af­ter Fe­bru­ary’s

Down­graded: Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill English took a swipe at credit agen­cies Stan­dard and Poor’s and Fitch af­ter they down­graded New Zealand’s credit rat­ing, say­ing New Zealand ‘‘is not run by them’’.

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