Wellingtonian Editorial: Wellingtonian of the Year

Last updated 09:32 24/12/2012

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The Wellingtonian

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OPINION: Wellington had a quiet 2012, though there were still some never- to-be-forgotten moments.

The Hobbit premiere last month created a fantastic buzz around the city, and just before that the visit of Prince Charles and Camilla provoked at least mild curiosity.

The regular attractions - World of WearAble Art, the International Arts Festival, the Comedy Festival, Fringe Festival, the Sevens - were outstanding.

But overall, Wellington wasn't as buzzy as it has been.

Earthquake strengthening, especially, and leaky homes, took a lot of the city council's attention. There were endless squabbles over the proposed Basin Reserve flyover, pedestrian safety in the Golden Mile, regional governance and the future of Zealandia.

Sadly, not a lot positive came out of the council, though John Morrison deserved credit for pushing ahead with the installation of more artificial pitches and Paul Eagle proved a particularly effective councillor for the Southern ward.

The council lost two significant and costly court cases this year and became embroiled in bitter disputes with residents in Karori and Newtown.

Wellington's central government politicians were a mixed lot and the best of them were Grant Robertson and Chris Finlayson.

Robertson's job as Opposition deputy leader didn't prevent him being an effective Wellington Central MP.

Finlayson, one of the National Party's senior ministers, wears several hats, including Attorney-General, Minister for Treaty Negotiations, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage and acting Minister for Labour. He handled the heavy workload well and Wellingtonians were pleased when he helped to reach a sensible outcome with the trenching of the road through Memorial Park.

Wellington struggled to land any big sports titles in 2012.

The Saints reached the national basketball finals, and the Pulse netballers improved notably. The Phoenix reached the A-League semis earlier in the year, but have struggled for consistency and, worryingly, crowds at home games have dwindled.

Though the Wellington cricket team has a formidable number of Black Caps, it again under-performed and fans questioned why so many overseas players were recruited at the expense of locals.

Several great Wellingtonians died this year, including former All Black captain and Rugby Union chairman Jock Hobbs, popular senior constable Dean Gifford - our 2011 Wellingtonian of the Year - sports doctor Bill Treadwell, former head of New Zealand drama school Toi Whakaari George Webby and businessman Lloyd Morrison.

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Surveying the scene to settle on our Wellingtonian of the Year, we have opted for a rugby player - centre Conrad Smith.

After making his first rep appearance for Wellington in 2003, Smith burst into the All Blacks the following year and has been a fixture in the side since. He has played 66 tests and it would be difficult to remember a bad one.

But he is more than a good player. He proved a popular and unifying captain of the Hurricanes this year, after the team's horrors of 2011, and is clearly one of the most important components of the All Black senior group.

We're proud to call Taranaki-born Smith a Wellingtonian and he is the subject of our Wellingtonian interview this week.

- The Wellingtonian

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