We're here already! Only two sleeps till Christmas and another year is drawing to a close.
Like me you're probably asking `where's the year gone?' It's been a busy 12 months as the government steers the country through a fragile recovery, but as we all know, 2010 will be remembered by the tragedies that hit the South Island. For many people they'll be looking forward to 2011 and rightly so. It promises to be another big year next year with the Rugby World Cup and an election on the horizon.
I'd like to wish you and your families a very merry and safe Christmas and a happy New Year. Enjoy the time with family and friends, and if you’re on holiday, take the time to relax. If you’re interested in reading my wrap on 2010, below is the last column I submitted to the North Shore Times.
The Year in Northcote
As with every year, it’s hard to believe that it’s Christmas already. It’s been a momentous year on a number of levels.
Locally the birth of the Super City dominated public political debate; the first meeting of the Kaipatiki Local Board was a milestone for those who follow these issues closely. On the sporting side, Northcote winning the North Harbour Club Rugby Premiership was the high point and thrilled a lot of people. On the cultural side the highlight for me was the publication of David Verran’s excellent “The North Shore: An Illustrated History”, a beautiful book that everyone north of the Bridge should get a copy of. If you live on the North Shore you feel a very strong affinity with the area.
As predicted, local community life and pride won’t stop just because of the Super City. There can be no greater example of this than the annual Birkenhead Santa Parade which took place last Sunday. Thousands turned out to line the streets of Highbury on a glorious day, and the feeling of community spirit, unity and goodwill was overwhelming. Once again Birkenhead Rotary did a fantastic job organising this, and followed it up with an excellent street fiesta on Birkenhead Ave. I hear there were a couple of Auckland Council officials who were sent along to assess the viability of future parades. The message is the parade is a huge success, we want to keep it, and we are determined to do so.
Of course it’s been a tough year for the country with a spate of disasters - Pike River, the earthquake, and then of course financial hits with South Canterbury Finance and the kiwifruit blight. The economy is in recovery mode. There have been real challenges for us in government with these crises but I’m proud of the way that we’ve responded, and also pay tribute to the resilience of the thousands of New Zealanders directly affected by these shocks.
I regard it as a real privilege to be in Parliament and Cabinet, and I want to thank people from across the Northcote electorate and the wider North Shore for the support I’ve had this year. It’s a job I love and I have no complaints. I get a huge boost out of coming home to Northcote each week from Parliament and just being back in my home area.
The team in the Birkenhead electorate office provide outstanding service to the constituency while I am down in Parliament and we’ve had a huge volume of people through the door in 2010. My colleague Wayne Mapp has just announced his retirement at the next election; I am going to be very sad to see a fantastic MP and close friend go.
Finally, on a personal note, the absolute highlight of 2010 was the birth of our second child, a beautiful baby son. The person I have to thank the most for her fantastic support is my wife Sandra.
Happy Christmas, and here’s to 2011.