Plenty of heart-breaking, rage-inducing, humanity testing news stories will linger in our minds long after the calendar flips over to 2024, but in the spirit of resilience we thought we’d throw ourselves one last challenge for the year: End the year on hope, and look for the good things - surely 2023 wasn’t totally shit?
Here’s a dose of dopamine to enjoy as you, hopefully, head into holiday mode.
$ We got footy fever $
The FIFA Women's World Cup exceeded both economic and participatory expectations, returning more than $100 million to New Zealand and garnering unprecedented levels of media coverage for women’s sport in New Zealand - making it the biggest sports event in the nation’s history. More than 60% of New Zealanders watched a match on TV or online and 87% of spectators felt the tournament improved their understanding and appreciation of women’s sport.
Rihanna was back, briefly
For 14 whole minutes, Riri was the only girl in the world that mattered. In February the star took to the stage in Arizona to headline the Super Bowl halftime show, her first live performance in five years. Suffice to say it was highly anticipated, with a record 121 million viewers tuned in to see her reveal her second pregnancy. That’s 6 million more people than watched the actual football game, so maybe those “Rihanna concert interrupted by a football game, weird but whatever” T-shirts weren’t inaccurate.
Protecting the moana
In August the (old) government announced plans to increase protected areas of Tāmaki Makaurau’s Hauraki Gulf. Two existing marine reserves will be extended, and 12 new high protection areas and five seafloor protection areas will be created. “It is for all of us to do all that we can to protect the gulf for the future,” then Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said.
It really is a Barbie world
Heaps of people went to the movies! Greta Gerwig’s Barbie broke record after record at the box-office: the highest-grossing film of 2023 globally, highest-grossing opening week for Greta Gerwig, Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, largest global opening for a female-directed movie, and the highest-grossing Warner Bros. title globally ever.
Gen Z is in the house
October’s general election saw the first wave of Gen Z representatives elected to Parliament, with three candidates aged 26-years or younger entering the Beehive. Te Pāti Māori’s Hana-Rāwhiti Maipi-Clarke, 21, managed to unseat Labour’s Nanaia Mahuta in Hauraki-Waikato, becoming New Zealand’s youngest MP in 170 years in the process. After being elected to Wellington Council in 2019, 26-year-old Green candidate Tamatha Paul won Wellington Central, beating out Labour’s Ibrahim Omer and National’s Scott Sheeran. National’s Tom Rutherford, 26, won the seat of Bay of Plenty.
There were plenty of horrific headlines this year, but we were all blessed by these two stories that were cute, yes, but also a showcase of the power of community news. From Brown’s Bay: Lock up your Crocs: Auckland shoe-thieving cat sets target on colourful clogs. And in Ōrākei: Cat wanders into cinema to watch Scream VI and doesn't even pay.
Big music on the big screen
In 2023 New Zealanders finally got to see Harry Styles in person again but the two biggest stage shows of 2023 skipped Aotearoa. Never fear though, because cinema came to the rescue again with both Taylor Swift and Beyoncé releasing films documenting their Eras and Renaissance tours. Honestly, an air conditioned seated theatre is a pretty good way to watch a concert. Both films reached unprecedented cinema success, but the megastars quashed any speculation of rivalry between them by each attending the other's premiere. Divas support divas.