The social web's news picks of 2011

By Troy Rawhiti-Forbes

It's easier than ever before to share news and multimedia items with your friends and networks. Here are some of the stories from our site that were among the most shared, liked, tweeted and clicked on by social media users in 2011.

Readers shared news of the serious and of the silly with their frends in 2011. Photos / Dean Purcell, Sarah Ivey, Natalie Slade, DoC, supplied
Readers shared news of the serious and of the silly with their frends in 2011. Photos / Dean Purcell, Sarah Ivey, Natalie Slade, DoC, supplied

1. From happiness to hell

The story of Ngatikaura Ngati, who died after suffering three miserable months of repeated physical abuse at the hands of his mother and stepfather, shocked our readers so much that it was quickly and widely shared among social media users.

It was reported that Ngati, who had previously been raised by his mother's cousin and her family, had been a confident and happy child until his birth mother took him back. He quickly changed into a terrified little boy who would mess his pants and then try to hide the evidence in order to avoid an inevitable beating.

Sadly, this particular article has had more longevity than young Ngati's own life. He died in 2006, aged three, and this story was published in 2007.

"Ngati's story" may have found its new audience after another article, published in October 2011, revealed that Ngati's image had been posted on a hardcore fetish website.

It did not take long after this revelation for From happiness to hell to jump to over 50,000 "likes", (Facebook jargon for the act of sharing an article or media item), and more readers have clicked on a Facebook link to this story than to any other on this site.

"When I was first wrote the story I was inundated with emails from shocked, horrified and upset readers," said reporter Elizabeth Binning.

"This time was no different, with dozens and dozens of emails coming in day after day.

"Many said they were left in tears, and struggled to read the entire article."


2. Christchurch: Then and now

New Zealand's Garden City was forever changed when a massive earthquake struck at 12.51pm on February 22, destroying buildings, killing dozens of people and driving thousands more into despair. This simple image gallery, published the next day, illustrated in bare detail just how powerful the earthquake had been.



3. Seal pup wanders into home and puts his flippers up

Everyone loves an animal story, as the Bay of Plenty Times' Kiri Gillespie demonstrated after a seal pup made himself comfortable inside a home at Welcome Bay. The attached photo gallery also proved to be extremely popular.


4. Baby wipes pulled amid health risk

A supermarket chain pulled several brands of baby wipes from their shelves after leading New Zealand author Wendyl Nissen raised concerns about iodopropynyl butylcarbamate and other chemicals found in the products.


5. Peter Bills: Northerners still clutching at air

The Rugby World Cup had barely gotten started when columnist Peter Bills lined up a perfect place-kick, aimed straight at the England rugby team, after their lacklustre opening-round performance against Argentina.

"England couldn't play, couldn't stay on the right side of the referee and couldn't even kick goals, the one thing they're supposed to be good at," he wrote.

"This abomination of a display was a disgrace to the good name of rugby football."

All this, and the men in white still had the "Tindall Stag-Do" scandals to come.


6. Rugby World Cup lookalikes

The stars of the Rugby World Cup may not have enjoyed every minute of the media attention they received during the tournament, but even they had a good chuckle over this photo gallery. The most inspired comparison of all may have been between Wallabies fullback Kurtley Beale and Puerto Rican character actor Luis Guzmán.


7. The big chill: latest updates

In 2011 the social media curation app Storify came into its own, and we at nzherald.co.nz put it to good use for breaking news and current events, using both professional journalism and social updates from the public.

In August, "Snowmageddon" hit New Zealand and, through Storify, nzherald.co.nz and the public told the story of the big winter chill as it happened.


8. KFC's controversial burger headed to NZ

The Double Down chicken burger came to New Zealand in May, bringing with it an incredibly high level of media attention for a sandwich that didn't even include bread.

When it went on sale, reporter Paul Harper noted: "A story I wrote in March about the impending release on the burger got more than 11,000 Facebook shares, surpassing even the most shared story written on the day of the February 22 Christchurch earthquake."

The story lives on in the Wikipedia entry for the deep-fried snack.


9. Raw video: Tornado in Albany

This video showed the destructive power of the May 3 tornado as it bore down on buildings in one of Auckland's largest commercial zones. One person died and several more were injured.


10. Where the F***'s Webb Ellis?

We know exactly where the Webb Ellis trophy is now, but when the Rugby World Cup tournament kicked off in September, it was a question New Zealanders were beyond tired of hearing. That is, unless it was posed in the form of a cheeky song like this one.


Lastly, since it is a time for retrospective views, who better to tell the story of New Zealand's 2011 than New Zealanders themselves?

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf01 at 20 Dec 2014 15:20:56 Processing Time: 610ms