January's torrid weather caused widespread damage, writes John Cousins
The Rena disaster was one of the twin peaks of this year's news landscape, so it seemed appropriate in hindsight that when 17-year-old Gypsea Harrison was crowned Miss Mount Maunganui, she recited a poem extolling the virtues of the Bay.
Her verses summed up everything that Rena threatened to destroy 10 months later. Wearing a skimpy leopard-print bikini, she stole the crowd's heart when she said: "Living at the Mount is the place to be, surfing or swimming by the sea. The Steamers are our team, ZM is our station, good ole New Zealand, what a wonderful nation."
A few days later Hoff mania hit the Mount when an adoring crowd of 4000 flocked to the beach to catch of glimpse of Baywatch star David Hasselhoff. The "Splice girls", models dressed in red swimsuits, ran on to the beach and the crowd yelled its delight when he held up a sign saying "Don't Hassel the Hoff".
Yes, it was an inspiring start to 2011, but it was also a month in which Tauranga had its own miniature version of the weeks of heavy rain that delivered floods "of biblical proportions" to north-east Australia.
On January 23, a combination of a 2m tide, strong northerlies and drenching rain caused widespread damage to vulnerable low-lying commercial areas of the city and washed away huge chunks of the popular walkway running from Matua to the bottom of Otumoetai Rd.
Less than a week later, the remnants of Cyclone Wilma lashed the city, flooding homes and roads and soaking holiday makers in camping grounds.
Patients were evacuated from Waipuna Hospice, water lapped homes along Adams Ave and The Mall, Mauao tracks were washed out and the Waimapu River overflowed across Oropi Rd.
A double fatality on a notorious bend on Oropi Rd, near where it flooded, began the year's road toll. The crash killed motorcyclist Chris Vickers, 55, and light truck driver Robin "Tom" Fong, 68.
Nine days later the community of Waihi Beach was stunned by the deaths of two teens, Dylan Perkinson and Vance Williams, and the driver of the other car, 45-year-old father of three and decorated soldier Mark Sydney. Two other teenagers were taken to hospital with critical injuries, leaving police to reflect on how speed, alcohol, rain and driver inexperience contributed to the accident.
The month started with the death of the inspiration for the memorable World War II poster girl, Rosie the Riveter. The recruitment poster which showed how girls can do anything was of Geraldine Doyle who died aged 86, nearly 70 years after she posed for the artist.
Death was back in the headlines a couple of days later when the Royal Forest and Bird Society declared that the mulched mangroves ringing Tauranga's estuaries were a "dead zone". Slippery slimy green sludge sat above a thick layer of black mud, prompted the regional council to trial other ways to manage the mulch.
The Greens then tried to use Tauranga's sister-city links with Hitachi to apply pressure to help end Japanese whaling in the Antarctic. They did not count on Mayor Stuart Crosby's decision to veto the bid, saying the council did not use its sister city relationships to get involved in political issues of that nature.
Seeing the sea's great fishes from a special vantage point was all that Tauranga angler Adam El-Agez wanted when he built a shark cage to sling over the side of his boat. The feared predators of the deep turned out to be gentle and inquisitive creatures.
The bell tolled for Tauranga's landmark 146-year-old aspen tree when a massive branch crashed to the ground, exposing the tree's rotten core.
Arborists pruned it to a mere shadow of its former self and then, after further tests revealed how frail it actually was, the historic tree was felled.
Maketu vicar, the Reverend Kotene Pihema, successfully called for the installation of safety rails on the concrete jetty at the mouth of the Kaituna Cut after 36-year-old Rotorua woman Atiria Raupita fell to her death while fishing on the wharf.
A Tauranga invention that is sweeping the world, shower domes, is going from strength to strength since production was stepped up in the Judea factory. Maurice O'Reilly and Ken Evans unveiled the multiple mould machine - the first of its type in the world.
In another commercial coup, Kiwi Bus Builders secured a contract to assemble 120 buses at its new factory in the Tauriko Business Estate, generating 50 new jobs and injecting $2 million into the Bay economy.
On the sports front, Tauranga Boys' College yachtie Trent Rippey brought home a boot load of silverware when he dismantled the 59-strong P class fleet at the national championships raced off Napier. Rippey's haul included the famed Tauranga Cup - a trophy that reads like a Who's Who of kiwi yachting.