In another year dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, with tough times to be acknowledged for many across the motu, it’s a good reminder to look back at the moments that made us proud to be New Zealanders in 2021.
Whether it was our massive Covid-19 vaccination effort, watching our sporting heroes dominate on a world stage or embracing our very own public holiday - despite another peculiar year, there was no shortage of moments to be proud of.
Optimistic vaccine target reached
Fighting back against the pandemic which has devastated millions across the world, Kiwis undertook the massive effort to fully vaccinate 90 per cent of its population - and we did it!
On December 16, it was reported that New Zealand hit the 90 per cent milestone for eligible Kiwis getting jabbed.
"We knew yesterday we'd reached the milestone, and now that the official count is through, we can formally recognise the hard work of everyone who has played their part, and who are continuing to do their bit,” Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said at the time.
It comes after the vaccination programme began in February, with a small group of vaccinators jabbed the day before the official rollout began.
The rollout began with those in higher risk work environments and the elderly. Then Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern received her first dose on June 18 and on August 21 Director-General of Health Bloomfield received his first jab.
In October the Super Saturday Vaxathon kicked off around the country with massive success, to encourage Kiwis to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated against Covid-19.
Our sporting successes
Of course our best-of-the-best headed to Tokyo for the Olympics in 2021, while Kiwis joined the stars' families watching the showdown from home this year in another "new-normal" experience.
Among the standouts at the Games was the unforgettable Lisa Carrington.
In a stellar performance, Carrington became New Zealand's most decorated Olympian of all time after winning a gold medal in the K1 500m final in August. She surpassed fellow canoe sprinting great Ian Ferguson for the most Olympic medals by a New Zealand athlete with her sixth medal at the Sea Forest Waterway.
Very own public holiday
New Zealand set dates, embracing our very own public holiday in 2021 - Matariki.
Breakfast host Jenny-May Clarkson said she was "so proud" as Aotearoa embraced Matariki.
Find out more about the new public holiday here.
Humanity shining through
Humanity also shone through in 2021, with several big moments to remember.
People banded together in the search for Tolaga Bay tot Axle Hamblyn. The three-year-old spent the night in cold bush wearing a t-shirt, nappy and gumboots before being rescued and returned to his worried family.
Massive search efforts also made us proud to be Kiwi in 2021 when a family was missing for three weeks in Marokopa. The community worked tirelessly to bring the family home. A court case is now underway for father, Tom Phillips, who disappeared with his children, Jayda Jin, eight, Maverick, six, and Ember, five.
Although it ended sadly, our spirit shone through in the fight to save a stranded whale near Wellington. Weta Digital staff and film director Sir Peter Jackson even created a new “super teat” for the stranded orca calf Toa to drink milk from as mass efforts were underway to try find his pod.