Tragedy to victory - names of 2013
The Mirror presents its newsmakers of the Southern Lakes District for 2013.
Wanaka slalom skier Adam Hall hopes to repeat his gold medal performance at the Winter Paralympics in Vancouver in 2010 in 2013 - except for his now-famous fall near the finish line, from which he still managed to claim gold. A member of the New Zealand disabled ski team since 2005, he had a fabulous win this year at home taking out the World Cup men's standing slalom at the Winter Games. He's followed that up with back-to-back gold medals in the North America Cup in the past two weeks and is continuing competition before heading to Europe in February ahead of the Sochi Paralympics where he will be joined by team mates Carl Murphy (snowboard cross) and Corey Peters (sit ski).
Formerly, of Dunedin, Simon Garrick, 42, had been living around Central Otago for some years. Police and family became concerned about him this year after he failed to show for a family funeral, his regular work and a court appearance. The last confirmed sighting of him was October 30 last year and, with his history as a heavy drug user, foul play could not be ruled out. In September this year a $20,000 reward was offered for information but a month later his remains were found in a caravan in a Cromwell holiday park.
Next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, could see the entire Wells family of four boys from Wanaka competing. Jossi, 23, Byron, 21, and Beau-James, 18, have qualified in the halfpipe, while Beau-James has qualified in the slopestyle. Jackson, 15, still has the chance to qualify and is with his older brothers competing in the United States now and hopes to meet the FIS International criteria. Dad Bruce is with them while Mum Stacey hopes to also be there for the Olympics.
American skier Toby Kravet, 72, became the news when he survived a night deep in snow with two broken legs on Treble Cone this year. From Hawaii, he had been visiting New Zealand to ski for 20 years. On the afternoon of August 19 he turned the wrong way off the Saddle Basin chairlift in poor visibility and ended up traversing well outside of the ski area boundary. He skied into a snow drift in Gottlieb's Saddle and broke both his legs. Spending the night in subzero temperatures he waved his arms to keep warm and focused on staying awake. Alerted by a bus driver that he had not made his ride, Land Search and Rescue located him via helicopter first thing the next morning. Speaking from his hospital bed before returning home he said the caring and the support from everybody, professional and civilian he had received had been overwhelming.
He stated working life as a farmer and truck driver but former Queenstown mayor John Davies became Sir John at this year's Queens Birthday honours for services to business and tourism. With businesses including the Milford, Routeburn and Greenstone Tracks Guided Walks, the Hermitage Hotel, and The Remarkables, Coronet Peak and Mt Hutt skifields, he is a powerhouse of tourism in the region. However, he has also been deeply involved in transport with Northern Southland Transport, Cromwell Transport and shares in Southfuels and Northfuels. He served as mayor in the 1980s and is a former chairman of Queenstown Airport. In the later half of this year he found one of his businesses under fire after NZSki admitted responsibility for injuries caused to a couple who fell from a Coronet Peak chairlift.
The Maniototo Maggots will be thrilled to have their All Black representative back on a full-time basis now that Andrew Hore has retired from international rugby and has not been signed in a Super-15 franchise. He's had his ups and downs (there was a seal shooting incident in 2005, a five weeks suspension for punching Welsh lock Bradley Davies last year and being kicked out of the Hurricanes after the 2011 season), however, the 83-test hooker has been one of the stars of the game, playing with the All Blacks for 10 years and a local hero to many. Now back in the Maniototo he hopes to make a good fist of being a farmer. ''If I do that as well as I've played rugby then I shouldn't be going too bad,'' he said, announcing his retirement.
The Menlove family
This year was not kind to the now Wanaka-based Menlove family. The former Southlanders lived in Brisbane at the start of the year and Hamish and Megan were anticipating the arrival of their third daughter. Ongoing health problems sent Megan to the doctor throughout her pregnancy. The say after Alice was born, Megan learned she had cancer and only a few weeks to live. The story of her death in April after they returned to the south touched many, encouraging Hamish to bravely speak publicly about early detection and to thank their many supporters. The former teacher is now at his parent's base at the Orchard Rd Berry Farm in Wanaka looking after Sophia, who starts school in 2014, Emma and Alice.
After a 35th placing at the London Olympics in 2012, it's been a year of achievements for Wanaka-based triathlete Nicky Samuels. She began the year winning the Motatapu triathlon having been left out of the prestigious high performance squad. She was then the supreme winner and senior sportswoman of the year at the Central Otago Sports Award. She has also been named in the Triathlon New Zealand's High Performance Squad. This year she will receive funding, support and mentoring as she continues with her plans to compete at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro.
International star Bear Grylls spent months in Wanaka filming his survivial show Get Out Alive, which then debuted in the United States to a 30.6 million viewers. Filled with jaw-dropping vistas of Mt Aspiring National Park, the NBC produced show became the number one unscripted series of the American summer on the major US television networks. Not only was the exposure fabulous for Wanaka but apparently he had a great time at local activities and contributed $10,000 to a project to rid the West Matukituki Valley of pests. ''I hope this small contribution helps support that great Kiwi spirit of adventure as well as preserve and protect the amazing wilderness that New Zealand can boast so proudly,'' he said.
Roxburgh Area School student was a regular in the Mirror this year winning a clutch of awards including the youth spirit award at the TrustPower Central Otago District Community Awards in June and the Youth Award at the Central Otago Awards, run by the district council. He also received a Central Lakes Trust tertiary education scholarship and was awarded the St John Youth Grand Prior award.
Not only as it been a big year for Bob Robertson, the Queenstown Volunteer Fire Brigade, which marked 150 years in the resort and had one of its most significant fires in the CBD when Fat Badgers and the World Bar went up in flames. Robertson stood down after 54 years service, half of those in the top job. The 74-year-old signalled the move earlier in the year and former deputy Terry O'Connell was appointed as chief fire officer designate. He continues with the brigade as operational support as well as keeping his job of 10 years - mowing the grass around Queenstown Airport and the runway.
Stop the Tunnel Group
The Glenorchy-based Stop the Tunnel Group was ready to launch a judicial review when it learned the proposed Milford-Dart bus tunnel was denied a concession to proceed by Conservation Minister Nick Smith in July. The tenacious group put thousands of hours into the effort to block the tunnel starting with a public meeting in early 2012 with a clear mandate from the community to proceed on its behalf.
Wanaka singer Jody Direen's year started with a chance meeting with Bear Grylls Ventures in Wanaka in March and resulted in her signing an exclusive deal with the United States-based mangement company. She flew to Nashville in June to perform at the Global Artists Awards as part of her prize for winning the Horizon Award for promising starts at the National Countyr Music Awards last year.
After the success of his first restaurant, Rata, in Queenstown, Emett has gone on this year to open an Auckland restaurant, Ostro, and, most recently, the Asian-themed Madam Woo in the Queenstown Mall. About the same time his first recipe book was published, the delightful Cut being a celebration of meat.
Financial adviser David Ross had one of this year's spectacular falls from grace, being jailed for 10 years and 10 months for theft and fraud. The elaborate ponzi scheme he ran through his investment company, Ross Asset Management is said to be New Zealand's biggest fraud. At least 700 investors are though to have been affected including about two dozen in Wakatipu. One southern investor is said to have lost $11 million while another lost their farm.