New Zealand. In February, Prime Minister John Key
announced a new election until November 26. Normally, new
elections are usually announced with much shorter notice,
but Key did not want to let the election questions compete
with the Rugby World Cup, which New Zealand would hold in
September and which would be the country's biggest event to
On February 22, 181 people were killed in a powerful
earthquake in the country's second largest city,
Christchurch. According to
Countryaah official site, thousands of people became homeless. Prime
Minister Key announced national emergency. The quake, which
measured 6.3 on the Richter scale, also caused great
material destruction and several churches and other old
buildings collapsed in whole or in part. The earthquake
caused much greater damage than the magnitude 7 earthquake
that occurred in Christchurch in September 2010. One reason
was that the earthquake in February occurred in the middle
of the day when thousands of people were out for lunch or
work, unlike in September that happened at night. In
addition, the quake epicenter was closer to the city in
February. The rescue work went on for a couple of weeks and
it took time before the number of fatalities could be
In early March, it was found that at least 5,000 of the
approximately 100,000 damaged homes in Christchurch could
not be rebuilt. They would be leveled with the ground, as
would about 1,000 commercial buildings that could not be
repaired either. According to Prime Minister Key, it would
take up to five years for something to be rebuilt in the
so-called red zone, which was closed after the earthquake.
The state offered to buy the land from households that could
not return to their homes. The Ministry of Finance estimated
the cost of the entire city's reconstruction to be $ 11
billion. Most of the expenditure would be covered by loans
and the government expected growth in 2011 to be lower than
expected due to the disaster, which occurred when the
economy had just begun to turn after a downturn.
In mid-June several aftershocks occurred in Christchurch.
They caused material destruction, but no people were
injured. Just before Christmas, a new quake occurred in the
town, without seriously injuring any people.
On 5 October, the worst maritime environmental disaster
occurred in the history of New Zealand. The Liberia-flagged
cargo ship Rena was due outside the city of Tauranga on the
east coast of the North Island. The ship had 1,700 liters of
oil on board and over 350 tonnes leaked into the area, which
has a rich wildlife with whales, dolphins, seals, penguins
and other birds. The oil soon reached the beach in Tauranga,
which is one of the country's most visited. Hundreds of
rescue workers cleaned the beaches and cleaned birds from
oil. A dozen birds were found dead. At the same time, an
attempt was made to pump out the vessel's oil and repair the
damaged oil tanks. The work was made more difficult by the
storm with high waves. At the end of November, rescue
workers were able to release the first group of rescued
penguins into the sea.
The economy was the dominant issue before the November 26
parliamentary elections. Prime Minister Key promised, among
other things, to reduce the country's government debt by
selling out shares in state-owned companies. That prompted
Labor's big opposition party to warn that state corporations
would end up in foreign hands if the bourgeois National
Party was allowed to continue to govern. The National Party
took home the electoral victory with 48% of the vote, which
was the best result in several decades. This allowed Key to
begin his second term in office. As before, the National
Party would work with a few small parties to get a majority
in Parliament. The reason for the government's big victory
was that the voters were satisfied with the economic
development, which despite the natural disasters was
relatively good in New Zealand compared to other countries.
Labor backed down and received only 27% of the vote.
Labor leader Phil Goff resigned and David Shearer was
appointed as his successor.
At the same time as the election, a referendum was held
on a new electoral system. The New Zealanders voted no more.
New Zealand was the world's least corrupt country in 2011,
according to the list published by the anti-corruption
organization Transparency International every year.
In December, the South Island suffered the worst floods
in a decade, and disaster states were issued. At the end of
December, the Tokelau Islands, like the neighboring Samoa
Islands, made a time change which meant they came across the
date line passing through the Pacific. December 30 was
simply canceled. The reason for the change was to get closer
to New Zealand and Australia on time, which is considered
better for business.