Cup a bright spot in year of gloom
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.
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’’.