To mark the tenth anniversary of, we're rounding up some of the highs and lows of the last decade. Below we selected 10 of the biggest news stories in New Zealand since 1998.

Key Points:

1. Sounds murders 1998

Blenheim friends Ben Smart, 21, and Olivia Hope, 17, disappeared on January 1, 1998, after celebrating New Year's Eve at Furneaux Lodge in the Marlborough Sounds. The police search for the pair focused on a mystery yacht described by a water-taxi driver who said he had dropped them off. Scott Watson was later arrested and convicted of Olivia and Ben's murders. He continues to protest his innocence and neither body has been found.

2. Auckland CBD power outage 1998


From late January 1998 power company Mercury Energy experienced a series of faults on the cables supplying electricity to Auckland's CBD. On February 20, 1998, all four of the cables failed. With no effective back-up Mercury had only enough capacity to power emergency services in the central city. Power supply was disrupted for over two weeks, leading to the temporary closure of hundreds of businesses. The power crisis officially ended on March 27 although sporadic outages continued until May of that year.

3. Labour election 1999

The Labour Party won the 1999 general election and Helen Clark began the first of three terms as Prime Minister of New Zealand. She was the country's first elected woman Prime Minister and the Labour Party's longest serving leader. During her time in power she became known for her intimate knowledge of policy and strength of leadership - creating a loyal and obedient executive. Labour was defeated by John Key's National Party in November 2008.

4. Sailor Sir Peter Blake killed 2001

The man who twice led New Zealand to America's Cup victory was fatally shot when bandits stormed his boat on the Amazon River on December 5, 2001. Sir Peter Blake, 53, had gone to Brazil on the research vessel Seamaster as part of a two-month environmental awareness expedition. Blakexpeditions was a United Nations backed venture which the sailor hoped would raise awareness of the importance of the world's waterways. Six men were convicted over Sir Peter's robbery and murder - they had no idea who the world-famous yachtsman was.

5. Lord of the Rings wins 11 Oscars 2004

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

directed by Peter Jackson won 11 Oscars - all the awards for which it had received nominations. The film was the final in Jackson's


Lord of the Rings

trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien's books. Filmed in New Zealand, the three films showcased New Zealand's film industry and scenery to the world.

The Return of the King

won best director, motion picture, adapted screenplay, art direction, costume design, visual effects, make-up, sound mixing, musical score, editing and song.

6. Smoking ban introduced 2004

On December 10, 2004, New Zealand banned smoking inside any workplace, one of the first such bans in the world. Lighting up became illegal in offices, smoko rooms, taxis and work cars. People could no longer smoke inside pubs, restaurants or cafes as staff in such premises would have been exposed to second-hand smoke. Many establishments created outdoor smoking areas.

7. Foreshore and Seabed legislation passed

Labour's controversial Foreshore and Seabed legislation passed its final reading on November 18, 2004. The legislation was sparked by a Court of Appeal ruling that said the Maori Land Court had had jurisdiction to hear claims to territory below the high tide mark. The Foreshore and Seabed Act confirmed Crown ownership of New Zealand's foreshore and seabed in perpetuity. Tens of thousands of people had marched in protest against the bill which was viewed by many as a 'land grab', taking away private land and customary rights from Maori. Labour MP Tariana Turia left the party in protest at the legislation and formed the Maori Party.

8. 'Anti-terror raids' 2007

In October 2007 armed police arrested 17 Maori, political and environmental under the Firearms Act while gathering evidence to try to justify charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act. Police said the raids were the culmination of a year-long investigation into alleged guerilla-style training camps in the Bay of Plenty. However, they were criticised for perceived heavy-handed tactics and the Solicitor General later ruled the charges and allegations, mostly relating to firearms, did not fall within the guidelines of so-called terror-related crimes.

9. School canyoning tragedy 2008

Six students and a teacher were swept to their deaths in a flash flood while canyoning on the Mangatepopo River, near Turangi on April 15, 2008. Tony McClean and Elim Christian College students Tom Hsu, Natasha Bray, Anthony Mulder, Tara Gregory, Floyd Fernandes and Portia McPhail died while trying to escape the torrent of water. The group had been allowed to go canyoning despite heavy rain warnings issued earlier that day. Much media coverage focused on the community's courage and understanding in the face of tragedy.

10. Sir Edmund Hillary dies 2008

Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb Mt Everest, died on January 11, 2008, at the age of 88. Upon news of his death, accolades came in from around the globe. Then Prime Minister Helen Clark said: "Sir Ed was simply the greatest living New Zealander so there's a profound loss for all of us..." Thousands stood in line to pay their respects to the mountaineer while his body lay in state at Auckland's Holy Trinity Cathedral. Nearly 314,000 people watched his state funeral being broadcast live to the nation.