Looking back on 2011, there is a lot to ponder.
Uppermost in my mind is a sense of sadness for the good people of Canterbury and sorrow for the harrowing year they have endured. At the same time, there is immense relief at being an Aucklander and not being faced with the decision of whether to go or stay in my home town. Would I leave Auckland if we faced the same predicament? Hard to say. It would be a wrench for sure.
It has been a phenomenal year for our sportsmen, most obviously the mighty All Blacks. Who could forget the deep emotional connection of being part of the stadium of 4 million? I never got to the final at Eden Park, instead opting to enjoy the 90mins of torture from the relative comfort of my living room. I did get to see Fiji v Samoa and the playoff for 3rd with Australia vs Wales. The deepest impression from those matches is huge pride at the way New Zealand welcomed the world to our backyards and showed them all how to party kiwi style. I sat next to some wonderful French and Welsh people at those two matches and was taught how to sing the Welsh anthem (sadly I struggled with all those consonants!), and joked with the French about their loss to the ABs from the night before.
The Breakers win in the NBL seems so long ago, but at the time was the first in a string of big kiwi victories. I don't even follow basketball, but couldn't help but be swept along with everyone else's euphoria.
Then, most recently, that epic win by the BlackCaps against Australia. The first one in 26 years on Australian soil. Somehow , that felt like the best victory since 1981..... The future is looking good for Rosco and his boys. There is plenty of experience in the side and lots of young blood to fire them along.
Other stuff that happened in 2011? The election. Big fat yawn. We all asked ourselves who these people are that voted for Winston Peters. Who cares! They are out there somewhere.
Us Jafas had the unexpected pleasure of being dusted in snow back in August. My dad told me that he saw snow in the Waitakere Ranges in the 1960s. It was the stuff of legend. Then we got our very own snow storm, while we were at MOTAT killing time after flights to the Mainland (to see some snow!) had been cancelled. We all gained a new word in our lexicon too as we learned about graupel. Jafas were heard to be knowledgeably discussing whether what they experienced was graupel or snowflakes for weeks afterwards. Meanwhile the good folk of Otago sniggered at our expense....!
Another memorable highlight for me came at Easter . It's hard to believe with the current tropical storms lashing the Big Little City, but Easter 2011 was unseasonably warm and sunny. The expectation is normally that Easter will be wet and horrible. Where have I seen that before? But last Easter was so hot, I found myself swimming at St Heliers beach under blazing skies that brought 23degrees . Maybe we are paying for that at this end of the year...
My final wee highlight came during RWC2011, and as a by product of that massive sporting tournament. By the way, the RWC is the 3rd largest sports tournament in the world behind the FIFA world cup and the Summer Olympics- whodathunk? Us Aucklanders gained free wifi hotspots placed strategically throughout the city. So what? Well, Auckland has always straddled that divide between being a town and a city on the world scale. We think we're a big city , but benchmarked against the rest of the world, we're teeny. I was in London in the middle of the year, and free wifi was everywhere. So when Auckland City brought it to us, it made me think that finally we are thinking big. Tourists expect to have this stuff available, it helps locals too.
It has to be a good thing to be at the beach doing your FaceBook updates on free wifi. Right?