The Waikato Times' top 10 newsmakers of 2013

And yes, Wanda Lee is on the list

ANGELA CUMING
Last updated 14:55 30/12/2013

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OPINION:  

PASSING RED

It was the public sculpture that divided a city in 2013. It seemed half of you hated it and the other half really, really hated it.

Created to honour our now-dead V8s glory, the artwork copped a literal beating when a car damaged it in (YEAR), prompting calls for the entire thing to be sent to the scrap metal merchants.

It had its supporters, too, and in the end the Hamilton City Council decided to keep it.

 

WANDA LEE

When the mysterious Wanda Lee set up a Facebook account that helpfully told us all what a horrible man Hamilton City mayoral candidate Ewan Wilson was she (or is that he) stirred things up in a big way.

Council candidate and prolific Facebooker Steve McLennan denied he was Wanda, Mayor Julie Hardaker said she had nothing to do with her either and Wanda herself failed to return the Waikato Times' calls for comment.

Wanda did see fit to contact McLennan via Facebook, though. So Steve, if you are reading this, tell Wanda we say hello and that offer for an interview still stands.

 

FLUORIDE

It does crazy stuff like stop your teeth from rotting and provides a crucial safety net for the elderly and children but that didn't stop a small but very vocal group of anti-fluoride folk from mounting a campaign to take it out of Hamilton city's water supply.

The fluoride-deniers had their day in the sun, convincing a majority of Hamilton City Councillors it was dangerous and had to go.

It is a a decision that is yet to be overturned despite an overwhelming majority of voters in October's non-binding referendum saying they would like it back thank you very much.

 

DAVE MAC

He was the man that launched a thousand headlines this year, most notably during the October elections when he announced he would stand for mayor, only to change his mind weeks later.

Dave Mac threw his support behind Julie Hardaker rival Ewan Wilson but it wasn't enough to topple the incumbent, and Dave almost lost his spot on the council due to a voter backlash.

 

THE GALLAGHER MANSION

Locals have  dubbed it "Chateaux de Gallagher" (or Tronsylvania Castle depending on who you talk to) and it was certainly the most talked about house in 2013.

Overlooking Hamilton's Lake Rotoroa, the multi-million dollar home of Sir William and Judi Gallagher came (sort of) close to being finished this year and a couple of aerial photographs of the pad were one of our most clicked-on stories of the year.

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When they weren't building their mansion the couple were kept busy celebrating 75 years of the family company and giving Hamiltonians a gift that was just made for selfies - a statue of Captain Hamilton in Garden Place.

 

DAVID BENNETT'S VOTE

He's our second-most conservative pollie (Tim Macindoe's a solid first) but David shocked and pleasantly surprised as us when he changed his mind about same-sex marriage and voted for the Marriage Equality Bill.

David was the only MP to switch from opposing marriage equality to supporting it and credited "feedback from constituents" for the change of heart.

And while a big gay rainbow didn't appear over Hamilton we were all pleased the sky didn't fall either.

 

SONNY BILL WILLIAMS

Well it would hardly be a list without SBW now would it?

There was the months and months of fevered speculation about whether or not he would return to the Chiefs in 2014 (he didn't) and a very welcome Christmas present from Rugby Santa when he finally announced he would back here in 2015.

But undoubtedly the most-read story about SBW for the year was this one - about his new girlfriend.

 

THE CHIEFS

The mighty Waikato Chiefs proved their 2012 Super Rugby title win wasn't a fluke by backing up and doing the whole thing again in 2013.

We watched with pride as footage of their victory haka went viral across the globe and marvelled at the sleek physical prowess that is prop Big Ben Tameifuna.

 The Chiefs were every bit the champions off the field too, from visiting sick kids in hospital to their co-captain moonlighting as a garbage collector over Christmas.

 Now that's Chiefs mana.

 

THE HAMILTON RING ROAD

Rarely does a major roading project unite a community the way the Ring Road did, with each completed stage welcomed by motorists fed up with Hamilton's notorious bottle-necks and peak hour gridlock.

The Ring Road's nifty social media presence didn't hurt, either, although we were all rather cross when Ring Road workers broke the internet.

 

THE DROUGHT

It was the Waikato's unwelcome house guest this year. The drought - the worst in 70 years - hit our farmers hard and scored the region's economy.

For a while there it seemed like we couldn't remember what rain looked and sounded like and the long-term effects are still being felt.

- Waikato

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