A memorable year - for all the wrong reasons

Last updated 05:00 28/12/2013
Peter Dunne
KEVIN STENT/ Fairfax NZ
WHO DUNNE IT? United Future leader Peter Dunne's struggled at times this year.

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In less than a week the new year will be rung in – and for some, it won’t come soon enough. AIMEE GULLIVER takes a look at people who had a memorable 2013, but one they might rather forget.

Who Dunne It?

The man with the hair so gravity-defying it almost needs its own bow tie has had a definitively bad 2013. It kicked off with UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne being accused by NZ First leader Winston Peters of leaking the Kitteridge report to a Fairfax reporter, which he denied. Then he had an embarrassing setback when his political party was deregistered by the Electoral Commission because it did not have the 500 financial members required, despite the party’s low $5 annual membership fee. Things went from bad to worse for Dunne, and, unable to prove he was not the source of the Kitteridge leak, he resigned as a minister the next week.

Laughing all the way to the Bank(s)

The prime minister has had a bad year keeping hold of his support party ministers, losing his second one when ACT leader John Banks was ordered to stand trial for electoral fraud over a failure to disclose donations from Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom. Banks’ judicial review of the decision was unsuccessful, and he is expected to stand trial in May 2014. He has announced he will resign as ACT party leader in March, and will not contest the 2014 general election, leaving many questioning the future of the ACT party.

That would have been better buried in the backyard

New Zealand’s biggest-ever fraudster David Ross was handed down a sentence of 10 years and 10 months for the single biggest individual fraud in New Zealand history. The 63-year-old must serve a minimum non-parole period of five years and five months for stealing about $115 million from at least 700 investors through a Ponzi scheme in which they thought they had more than $380m. Those that had a worse year than Ross are his investors, especially when considering his minimum non-parole period (which he is appealing on the grounds it is manifestly excessive) is equivalent to serving roughly one day for every $60,000 he stole from investors.

So long, and thanks for all the fish

After failing to make much of an impression in the Labour leadership, David Shearer certainly made a splash – of sorts – in his final days in the position. Turning up to Parliament with two dead snapper that had reportedly been brought down from Auckland in Shearer’s carry-on luggage, the then-Labour leader brandished the dead fish in the House during a discussion about National’s controversial snapper quotas. The snapper were eventually placed back in their bag and removed from the debating chamber by then-deputy leader Grant Robertson. The backfired stunt is now synonymous with the demise of Shearer’s leadership, which he resigned when he realised he lacked the support of his caucus.

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Beaten into retirement

Not a great year for New Zealand boxing in general. Especially so for Shane Cameron, whose heavyweight boxing aspirations were finished off by Brian Minto; and David Tua, who retired recently after being outboxed by Alexander Ustinov. It’s not all doom and gloom for Tua though, the Maori Party is reportedly seeking talks with the retired boxer to discuss the possibility of him standing as a candidate for the party at next year’s election.

Bad, bad, Leroy Brown

It was the gift everyone wished would stop giving. The sordid details of Auckland Mayor Len Brown’s two-year affair with junior council adviser Bevan Chuang emerged the week after he was re-elected as mayor of the supercity. Brown fronted up on national television, and apologised to his wife and three children.

Double balls-up

Losing one job in a year is unlucky, losing two is just careless. After a terrible run of form with the Wellington Phoenix, coach Ricki Herbert jumped before he was pushed by the board in February. The Phoenix had become the competition’s whipping boys, suffering several heavy defeats in what was only the beginning of a tough year for Herbert. In November, Herbert announced he would step down as coach of the All Whites at the conclusion of the team’s 2014 Fifa World Cup campaign – which they lost 9-3 on aggregate to Mexico.

All but the one that mattered

It was arguably the worst moment in New Zealand sport since Trevor Chappell bowled the underarm ball in 1981. Emirates Team New Zealand was in front by eight races with a stranglehold on the oldest trophy in international sport. Then wind, time limits, and those little-understood foils used by Oracle Team USA saw the races fall, one by one, until the ‘‘winner takes all’’ decider played out as the nation watched in disbelief. You know the rest.

Ugly duckling

New Zealand’s native kakapo received international attention this year – but for all the wrong reasons. The endangered bird featured on the British-based Ugly Animal Preservation Society’s list of the ugliest animals in the world, coming second only to the aptly-named blobfish. The poor kakapo was described by the society’s founder, Simon Watt, as being a ‘‘rubbish parrot’’. All is not lost, however – the society seeks to raise the profile of some of ‘‘Mother Nature’s more aesthetically challenged children’’ – attention the kakapo could do with. The bird lacks a fear response for threats, and is often in the mouth of a predator before it is aware it is in danger – meaning there are only 126 kakapo left.

Neil Armstrong had some pretty strong beliefs on it

It is difficult to know where to start with Conservative Party leader Colin Craig’s opinions – or non-opinions – on matters ranging from gay marriage to whether man has actually walked on the Moon. In April, Craig sided with Danish politician Marie Krarup on the traditional Maori welcome she received in New Zealand, and said no visitor should have to face a ‘‘bare-bottomed native making threatening gestures’’ if they didn’t want to. Craig described the passing of the marriage equality law a ‘‘failure of democracy’’, claiming that ‘‘the day of reckoning’’ would come. Not a big believer in man-made climate change, in November, Craig said ‘‘the circulation of planets’’ and ‘‘sunspots’’ were behind environmental changes. Most recently, he has said ‘‘I don’t have a belief or a non-belief in these things’’ in response to whether man walked on the Moon. Potentially eyeing up Craig as a coalition partner for 2014, John Key has suggested Craig is just ‘‘winding up the media’’. Here’s hoping.

Dishonourable Mentions

- MediaWorks (nearly bankrupt, lost Home and Away, and other goodies)

- Fonterra (found the right formula for scaring new mums)

- Davina Murray (gave a new meaning to lawyer’s briefs)

- Hekia Parata (closed more Christchurch schools than the earthquakes did)

– Willie and JT (choked on their roast, then busted)

- Brendan Horan (might have been a good year ...  he still has a pay packet)

- © Fairfax NZ News

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