It's the last day of the year (unbelievably), and what a year it has been. So please indulge us while we take a few paragraphs to reflect on the year just passed.
The abiding memory of 2011 will be the Christchurch earthquake. We spent Christmas/New Year down there last year, and certainly felt the Boxing Day quake. We were out of town for New Year's Eve, but were back in Christchurch by lunchtime on 1 January, and even then, we'd barely sat down at the restaurant in Riccarton Road when the earth moved again. The next day we sat in the cafe at Christchurch Cathedral, then lunched at a hotel overlooking the square. Little did we know what was to follow.
We were out of town on Tuesday 22 February when we got a txt about the earthquake in Christchurch. The next few hours were a blur, even an island away as we worked the phones accounting for family, staff and contractors. We didn't get home until 10pm that night, and it was then that we first saw the devastation in central Christchurch. As we drove home, Ohakea was fully lit; we later learned that it was to fly the North Island USAR team south.
We've had numerous visits to Christchurch since, and as we've said before, the resilience of the folk down there is commendable. A new Christchurch will emerge from the rubble of 22/2/11, and those who tough it out now will be rewarded with a wonderful new city.
The dust had barely settled on Christchurch when, one Friday night we saw Twitter accounts of a magnitude 9 earthquake in Japan. We switched the TV to the news channels, and watched transfixed as a wall of water washed inland. We've since heard first-hand accounts of the tragedu from a USAR member who was deployed to both Christchurch and Japan, and the pictures we saw on the television don't even begin to describe the horror in Japan.
The General Election was a major focus, given that we are primarily a political blog. We were delighted that John Key was able to form a government post-26 November; the mere thought of a tax-borrow-and-spend Labour/Greens government, propped up by Winston Peters would have been too much to bear!
It's been a huge sporting year. The Black Caps defied the odds reaching the semi-finals of the ICC World Cup, and ended the year on a high by beating Australia in a test match in Hobart. Both the men's and women's hockey teams performed strongly in the Champions Trophy tournaments, and both are medal chances for London 2012. Valerie Adams retained her world shotput title, and our rowers won a bunch of medals at the world championships; hopefully a portent of Olympic success. The NZ Breakers won the Australian NBL title; a first for a professional team in this country. The Warriors marched to the NRL Grand Final, but fell to Manly, although the Junior Warriors won a second consecutive Toyota Cup, and have become a fantastic nursery for the top side.
But the undoubted highlight of the sporting year was the Rugby World Cup. For six weeks, rugby reigned supreme, and the country was on a high. Who could ever have predicted that 18,000 would pack out Arena Manawatu to watch Georgia play Romania on a Wednesday evening, and that over 5000 of them would be bedecked with either red or yellow buckets! And it all came down to that tension-filled final few minutes at Eden Park one Sunday night late in October as the All Blacks won a second Webb Ellis Cup. The naysayers were silenced, tournament sales targets were exceeded, and the All Blacks got the monkey off their back; it was a wonderful and unforgettable tournament.
On a personal level, it's been an interesting year. We made a decision that this would be a year where we consolidated our businesses after several years of exponential growth that we could never catch up with. It was a necessary decision, and it's proved to be a good one as we have focused on systems and processes, whilst reducing our own workloads somewhat. In the New Year however we'll be moving into Auckland business-wise through an opportunity which landed in our laps a couple of months ago. That will certainly present some new challenges along with new opportunities, and we'll be visiting Auckland more often. We also joined a service club in the early part of the year, and that has been a pleasant and welcome diversion from mundane things such as work! But we didn't get out to golf anywhere near as often as we would have liked, and that will be a priority for 2012, along with getting fit and losing some weight.
That's our brief take on the year that ends at midnight tonight. Feel free to give us your own perspective via the comments. And however you celebrate tonight, stay safe; the weather here is foul; it can only improve in 2012!