Memories of 2013

16:00, Dec 27 2013
clayton station
JUNE: South Canterbury experienced a massive snow dump in June, particularly around Mt Cook and Tekapo and here, at Clayton Station above Lake Opuha.

December's dying days provide the impetus for a leisurely flick through the files to see what the year had brought us. And, in a word, it was weather - rain, wind and snow, we had it all. Features editor Claire Allison takes a walk down memory lane.


The year got off to a much better start for Wai-iti Rd boy Ryan Newlands, whose Christmas present, a longboard, was stolen from the family's Christmas light-bedecked home. Ryan's faith in humanity was restored when a man calling himself only "Bob" supplied the 10-year-old with a new board.

north mole fire
MAY: A warehouse fire at Sanford on the North Mole made for a spectacular sight on a Sunday afternoon in May.

There was tragedy at the Kurow Races when 26-year-old jockey Ashlee Mundy fell, and was flown to Dunedin Hospital, where she later died from her injuries.

Weather hit the headlines at the beginning of the year, and kept popping up on front pages through the year. January saw high winds bring down trees and Christmas decorations in Timaru's main street, and resulted in campers being warned of rising water as 400mm of rain was expected along the main divide. The month was typified by high winds, rain, an electrical storm, trees being downed, roofs lifted and hydro lakes spilling.

Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd copped criticism for seemingly ignoring radio calls after its vessel Brigitte Bardot, near the Rangitata River mouth, was the subject of a distress call. X Factor auditions hit Timaru, the wind came up again, and a Christchurch schoolboy saved his dad from drowning in Lake Aviemore.


sam and rachel callender
OCTOBER: Sam and Rachel Callender succeeded in raising $85,000 for their Super Power Baby Project - aimed at changing the way we look at children with genetic abnormalities.

Timaru saw the departure of the biggest shipment of dairy cows ever - 7200 - to China on the Bader III, a 3km rockfall off Mt Dixon provided a spectacle for 12 climbers in a hut in the Aoraki-Mt Cook National Park, and the Timaru fishing boat Journeyman, which disappeared in November 2011, was found 13km off the coast of Timaru in 27 metres of water.

February saw Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen's 127m super yacht, the Octopus, cruise into the Port of Timaru, and our council's eco-compost got the big tick after a five-year study which showed it could enhance crop production for at least two years.

Yachtie Des Ward Junior was involved in a dramatic overnight rescue when he was hit by a southerly off St Andrews, and was towed to Timaru by the fishing boat Achernar.

OCTOBER: South Canterbury experienced some of its worst windstorms this year.

A car crashed through a Waimate home at 1am, teachers were still struggling with flawed pay system Novopay, and a wallaby was reported wandering around the Highfield area. An out-of-control party at the Otipua Hall resulted in police with riot shields, helmets and batons trying to restore order, and eight people were arrested.

Draining of the Tekapo Canal revealed a cache of decaying weapons, which were later discovered to have been taken in a burglary of a Mayfield property 25 years earlier.

Timaru's Farmers Market moved from Saturday to Sunday, and from Caroline Bay to Strathallan St, and a whooping cough epidemic continued to sweep through South Canterbury, with 40 cases reported in three months.

Appropriately, in March, Timaru hosted the New Zealand and South Pacific Pipe Band championship, with the icing on the cake being South Canterbury winning its grade - the first time since the event was held in Timaru 70 years earlier.

The cruise ship Marina - accommodating 1250 passengers - arrived in Timaru, dwarfing everything else in port, and work finally began on the replacement of the two 132-year-old Kurow Bridges.

Relay for Life organisers announced the popular event would become annual, rather than biennial, feed from South Island farms was sent to drought-stricken North Island properties, and South Canterbury was warned that ambulance cover was under threat, with 55 more volunteers needed in the region.

Our MRI scanner - bought with community-raised funds - was finally unveiled and ready to start work, the Presbyterian Church voted to sell Chalmers Church in Elizabeth Place and St Paul's Church in Seddon St, and the much-loved Kiwi spread, Marmite, was finally back on supermarket shelves.

Happy Feet made an April Fool's Day appearance on Caroline Bay, and police statistics showed that while there was a decrease in overall reported crime - down 17.1 per cent - 2012 was marked by an extraordinary number - four - of homicides in Mid and South Canterbury.

Nigel Trainor was appointed CEO of the SCDHB, a proposal to combine Timaru's three clubs - the RSA, the Cosmopolitan Club and the Town and Country Club - was mooted, legal highs started hitting the headlines, plans for developing Tekapo's foreshore were revealed, and Sanford was fined $70,000 for an oil fuel spill in Timaru's harbour.

New Zealand's Got Talent auditioned in Timaru in May; plans for the old Hervey Motors site were unveiled and included two restaurants, a professional firm, and possibly up to 50 jobs; and fire engulfed a Sanford coolstore on the North Mole, sending clouds of smoke into the Timaru sky.

The Timaru District Council stepped in and started running the cafe at CBay after the operator moved on, legal highs saw the community march and meet, Prime Minister John Key opened Timaru's newest flour mill, and Janie Annear announced she would not seek a fourth term as mayor of the Timaru district.

The wind came up again in June, downing powerlines and overturning vehicles in the Mackenzie Country, and was followed by rain and snow.

A South Canterbury man was jailed for eight years, 10 months for selling the use of his baby son for sexual gratification.

Weekend rugby hit a new low, with an all-in brawl resulting in 10 complaints being lodged against six players and two spectators; and a member of the public suggested that the Otipua Rd entrance to Centennial Park be entry-only, potentially saving ratepayers about $50,000.

Heavy rain hit South Canterbury, closing roads and washing out bridges, and snow hit the Mackenzie Country, with drifts of up to 1.5m in the Aoraki-Mt Cook village.

Changes announced in July to Timaru's bus routes didn't impress some when they learned that new stops would be across their driveways, and there was shock at the news the Salvation Army planned to close Bramwell Booth home, because it was no longer viable. Days later, police confirmed they were investigating allegations of sexual abuse at the home.

High winds hit again, felling trees, cutting power, contributing to vehicle crashes, and causing problems for South Canterbury skifields trying to open for the season.

A new salmon plant at Washdyke held a raising the roof ceremony, celebrating the fact the factory should create up to 20 new jobs, and potentially twice that number over the next three years.

A Timaru woman was charged with breaching a court suppression order after she named an offender on Facebook, the RSA rejected the proposal to merge with other clubs in Timaru, and a new operator was found for the CBay cafe.

We discovered South Canterbury had been hit with the highest average power price rises over the past five years, and Herald readers went on safari, tracking down a giraffe, an elephant and a zebra - all originally playground animals from Caroline Bay.

May's Bakery owner Bernie Sugrue announced plans for a multimillion-dollar bakery in Washdyke, and Smithfield freezing works staff - having just been laid off for the off-season - were called back because of compliance issues at its sister plant, Pukeuri.

The Port of Tauranga indicated it wanted a 50 per cent share in PrimePort Timaru, same-sex marriage became legal, with 31 couples tying the knot on the first day, and work began on a $3 million boarding house at Craighead Diocesan School. Anglican Care had to cut costs, dropping its foodbank, counselling and cooking classes, retaining only the children's grief and loss programme, Oceans.

September saw two members of the South Canterbury Rugby team accused of rape in Whanganui, and gale-force winds struck (again), felling trees, lifting roofs, and causing major damage in Waimate at Knottingley Park, the golf course and the racecourse.

Timaru man Steve Newman had a victory, taking on police after being accused of driving erratically; St Vincent de Paul announced plans to demolish its existing Stafford St building and build new; and it was revealed the Timaru District Council was withholding its final payment to contractors Ranger Construction for the Caroline Bay aquatic centre because of leaky pipework.

October brought the news that 20 South Canterbury teachers had been accused of dodgy acts over the past five years, including one who had their registration cancelled for sexual misconduct.

Washdyke businesses were asked to consider a $1 million flood protection scheme, and Timaru couple Sam and Rachel Callender succeeded in raising $85,000 for their Super Power Baby Project - aimed at changing the way we look at children with genetic abnormalities.

Damon Odey won the race for Timaru's mayoralty, beating orthopaedic surgeon Steve Earnshaw to the title. Waimate welcomed new mayor Craig Rowley, and the Mackenzie district endorsed Claire Barlow for a second term.

The wind blew in Geraldine, Winchester and Temuka; Aoraki Polytechnic signalled more than 40 possible redundancies; Andy Earl was fined $1500 and disqualified from driving for 12 months for his role in the crash that killed Allan Hubbard two years earlier; and Fonterra announced a $72 million investment in mozzarella production.

Thirty youths were trespassed from the Briar's Gully camping ground at Lake Benmore after a series of out-of-control parties and vandalism.

November offered plans to increase the spill capacity of Lake Opuha from 110 cumecs to 250 cumecs, and plans for a major retail centre on the Hilton Highway Seedlands site.

The New Zealand Defence Force embarked on its massive combined exercise, Operation Southern Katipo, based in South Canterbury and involving around 2500 personnel.

In the courts, Johnny Holman pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter for the death of Shane Braddick in York St, and Matthew Krouse was found not guilty of attempted murder, but guilty of two other injuring and wounding charges, involving an 8-year-old boy.

December saw an attempt to snatch a 13-year-old girl off her bike on State Highway 8 at Washdyke and, within days, a 20-year-old man was arrested in relation to the incident.

There were plans to build a new hospital wing and retirement villas at Radius Elloughton Gardens, and to extend the Highfield Rest Home into neighbouring properties.

The council wasn't impressed when a traffic light control box was pulled out at the Factory Rd bridge and dumped in the Orari River, but it was all smiles when Holcim announced it had chosen PrimePort Timaru as its South Island terminal for its imported bulk cement.

And, a Christmas present for St Mary's parishioners - the news that the church had finally settled with its insurers, allowing repairs of the quake-damaged building to proceed.

There was little in the way of weather. But, at the time of writing, there was still a week to go. Plenty of time for some extremes.

The Timaru Herald