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 date.
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 determined.
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.