News | 31 December 2020
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The year that was 2020 in social media

As 2020 finally draws to a close, we are looking back through our social media channels at what was truly (don’t say it, don’t say it)... an unprecedented year.

Image of Mittens with certificate and key to the city

We started 2020 in a state of ignorant bliss, with the biggest drama being the theft of our Welly Walks box in January. After two scary nights in the bush, the box was found thanks to the power of social media and given a blanket and a hot milo to recover. Nice.

This wasn’t the only major theft in Pōneke this year. In October, a dozen precious plants were stolen from the Begonia House in the dead of night, only to be recovered by the Police two weeks later! What a re-leaf!

Moving into March, things started to change pretty rapidly, and we found ourselves in a full lockdown. Our usually bustling city slowed right down – Wellington was definitely not moving.

View of Waterloo Quay with no traffic. Sky Stadium in the background.

With all of our facilities and services closed, we found ourselves faced with the challenge of keeping our residents not only informed, but entertained while cooped up at home. Our answer? Colouring in competitions! Our first Mittens themed competition had nearly 50 entries from Wellington and around the world.

Speaking of the handsome devil, this floofy Turkish Angora was awarded the Keys to the City in May for his services to Wellington – offering free pats to all!

After a challenging few months at Alert Levels 4 and 3, we thought it would be the purrfect way to cheer our residents up. And it worked, becoming our most popular Facebook post of all time, with over 5,000 likes and comments from fans as far away as South Africa, Canada, Australia (and Auckland). The story proved popular across the board with over 21,000 views on our website, and creating a minor media frenzy!

A native NZ falcon looking down the barrel of the camera, surrounded by features on grass, after eating a pigeon.

Mittens wasn’t the only animal celebrity to gain notoriety this year – a kārearea/falcon was spotted not once, but twice munching on a pigeon in Jack Illott Green. One of our team members Tom Box captured the crime on camera and slid into our DM’s with the evidence. Wellingtonians were stoked to see New Zealand’s rarest bird of prey right in the heart of the city!

Nature fought back in other ways this year, with heavy rains creating persistent puddles and strong winds knocking down trees in both Midland Park and Middleton Road (we are sensing a theme). A rare parasitic plant was also reintroduced to Pōneke – it’s not as scary as it sounds!

Waves threw debris across roads on Wellington's south coast.

In April, right in the middle of our Level 4 lockdown, a huge swell on the South Coast forced five families and their pets to evacuate from their homes in Owhiro Bay. It took crews several days to remove all the debris from the road, but everyone was kept safe and COVID free thanks to the quick thinking and mahi of our Community Services team.

On a more positive note, there was a metaphorical wave of positive change in 2020. We renamed two iconic Pōneke places in September, with the Botanic Gardens becoming Botanic Gardens ki Paekākā, and Warepouri Street in Berhampore was finally corrected to Te Wharepōuri Street – all during Te Wiki o te reo Māori language week!

A gardener and a police officer giving a high-five in front of a car with plants that were stolen and then returned.

Precious plants were stolen but then returned to Begonia House!

As we sprang into spring, lockdown began to feel like a distant memory, and Wellingtonians were stoked to welcome back some old friends to the city. The mighty Fern orb created by Neil Dawson returned to Te Ngākau Civic Square in October, and Len Lye’s Water Whirler spun back onto the waterfront after a destructive climbing incident last year.

Now here we are in summer once again, and the silly season is in full force. Instead of messages about Alert Levels and closed services, our inbox is full of questions about our summer events, grass mowing and parking – as it should be.

We can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2021!