Society

A year of deep change evident in 2012

Headline moments drove 2011 – natural disasters like earthquakes and floods, and major events involving thousands of Kiwis, such as a general election and the Rugby World Cup. In contrast, 2012 was a year in which deep change surfaced and pointed towards a very different for future New Zealand.
  • Image, blurred traffic approaching central Auckland, at night, with the Skytower illuminated.

    Significant statistics

    Two significant statistical milestones occurred in 2012.

    The first of the baby-boomers, those born in 1947, turned 65. This signalled a long-term increase in the gold-card generation. While this suggested an increasing burden on our wage-earning population, it was striking that a growing proportion of those over 65 were choosing to stay in paid work.

    The birth of a 4.4-kg girl to Samoan parents in Middlemore Hospital on 1 February brought Auckland’s population to 1.5 million. With over one-third of New Zealanders living in that city, it’s clear Auckland’s economic and cultural dominance is likely to increase. Auckland is New Zealand’s only international-scale city. It’s also the most ethnically and culturally diverse community in the country.

    Creative culture

    The year saw further confirmation of our creative culture’s impact on the international stage. We also noted how important the cultural sector is to our own economy and identity.

    • In music, Hamilton-born Kimbra won international acclaim following the release of Somebody that I used to know, then won a Grammy in 2013. Bret McKenzie won an Oscar for his song Man or muppet.
    • In film, Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An unexpected journey became the 15th movie in history to earn US$1 billion world-wide.
    • In literature, New Zealand was a huge success as the guest of honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair. At home, Margaret Mahy, whose children’s books have brought world-wide recognition and been translated into at least 15 languages, died in Christchurch.

    Sporting success

    New Zealand sport was overwhelmingly an amateur pursuit 25 years ago. Then professionalism began and increasingly we’ve invested money into high-class sporting facilities and elite athletes. This increasing professionalism bore fruit in notable success in 2012.

    • New Zealand had its most successful Olympic Games ever – in London the team won six gold medals, two silvers, and five bronzes.
    • The New Zealand Breakers basketball team won the Australian NBL for the second time.
    • The All Blacks won the Tri-Nations rugby and the Bledisloe Cup – they were beaten only once in 14 games.

    Digital New Zealand

    In 2012 digital media showed its growing importance to New Zealand.

    • The number of mobile phone users accessing the Internet rose to over 2.5 million. 
    • Growing numbers of New Zealanders tracked news through the Internet. Partly in response, the country’s largest newspaper, the New Zealand Herald, became a tabloid.
    • Hawke’s Bay and the West Coast became the first regions to go totally digital for television transmission.
    • In January, police raided the home of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and arrested him for Internet piracy, part of an international move against his file-hosting site. The legal consequences of this rolled through the year.

    Meanwhile the pre-digital economy stalled. Dunedin’s Hillside Workshops, which had provided engineering services to New Zealand’s railways since 1875, were partially sold and the rest closed.

    Christchurch looks forward

    While the earth beneath Christchurch calmed down in 2012, the city began to look forward. In July the city’s central recovery plan was released. It envisaged a compact, low-rise central city surrounded by green areas of open space. The features include a new covered sports stadium, a performing arts precinct, a convention centre, and a cultural centre for Ngāi Tahu.

    The future Christchurch is being built on many of the long-term changes that 2012 began to make evident.

    Source: Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

The year saw further confirmation of our creative culture’s impact on the international stage.
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