Editorial: A year of tragedy and high drama

Despite a brief scare courtesy of the ancient Mayans, we've nearly made it to the end of another year. There has been all manner of catastrophic and compelling events in Manawatu this year, including murder trials, royal visits, fatal plane crashes, sporting glory, council controversies and a new beginning for a troubled stretch of road.

From Boxing Day we'll be running our annual year in review series, which takes a look back at the stories that made headlines in 2012.

One of the most compelling of these stories was the murder trial of Feilding farmer Ewen Macdonald, who was accused of killing his brother-in-law Scott Guy on the morning of July 8, 2010. Despite the month-long trial being held in Wellington, it was of huge interest to Manawatu people, and the Standard was there for every minute.

Mr Macdonald was found not guilty at the trial's conclusion - a result that sparked much debate throughout the country - but Mr Guy's family accepted the verdict with consummate grace. We can only hope that one day his killer will be brought to justice.

Perhaps the most shocking tragedy to befall the region was the Feilding plane crash that claimed the lives of Queensland-based chiropractor Brett Ireland, and Palmerston North doctor Ralph Saxe.

The plane crashed into Feilding's Timona Park in the middle of a densely populated suburban area. The crash is still being reviewed but the disastrous implications of a crash into nearby houses have many hailing the pilot as a hero.

Something as seemingly banal as parking has proven to be a major annoyance for Palmerston North residents. The frog parking system adopted by the city council has resulted in hundreds of complaints from people who feel it is too complex and rigid. A cadre of business owners and city leaders joined forces to push the council into making changes to the system, which led to the creation of a working party to oversee it.

But it wasn't all doom and gloom. Our sporting heroes came to the fore once again with the likes of cyclists Simon van Velthooven and Jesse Sergent bringing home medals from the London Olympics, while Manawatu Turbo Aaron Smith surprised many with his impressive performances for the All Blacks.

Another bright point was the opening of the Manawatu Gorge, the major arterial route having been closed by a massive slip last year. The brief appearance of Prince Charles and Camilla in Manawatu, who requested a taste of provincial life, put the entire region in royal fever.

No-one can know what 2013 will bring but you can rest assured the dedicated crew of journalists and photographers at the Standard will be there to bring you stories about things that matter in Manawatu.

The Manawatu Standard