As we say goodbye to 2021 and welcome in 2022, it's a good time to catch up on the very best of the Herald columnists we enjoyed reading over the last 12 months. From politics to sport, from business to entertainment and lifestyle, these are the voices and views our audience loved the most. Today it's the top five from Thomas Coughlan.
Covid strategy in doubt - August 19
We woke on Wednesday in a state of national deja vu.
Collectively slipping into our second-best athleisure (the first-best being kept for Government-mandated exercise), scanning the airways for news of new cases, and settling in for a day of work at our kitchen tables, it was easy to feel that this time things will play out much the same as they did last year, politically as well as epidemiologically.
But there's obvious upside and downside risk to this scenario.
Epidemiologically, the Delta variant is so highly infectious it could spread beyond the ability of the Government to control it.
Read the full article: Covid strategy in doubt
Knives out in National as caucus struggles to show unity - August 26
At National's annual party conference, immediately following the vote on conversion therapy, liberal MPs donned rainbow ribbons in support of the LGBT community.
The ribbons were interpreted by many, not least Young Nats, who were responsible for making and distributing them, as a public rebuke to the way the caucus voted.
Collins was not amused. Division exhibited on conversion therapy was seen to have distracted from the conference, where she had sought to reassure members that the caucus was united and disciplined.
Following the conference, Collins wanted to remind her caucus that becoming a member of Cabinet means swallowing a lot of dead rats. A minister won't always get it their own way, but they have to sell the Cabinet line all the same.
Read the full article: Knives out in National as caucus struggles to show unity
Demand the Debate campaign is hypocritical - July 22
Complaints about consultation and due process are common from the Opposition. Labour had its own "Demand the Debate" moment when it railed against the lack of parliamentary debate under the previous National government, of which Collins was a part.
In its first two years in power, the Key government put Parliament into urgency for 331.5 hours, nearly double the time the Clark Labour government sat under urgency in its full first term. It passed 17 laws in that time, without select committee examination. Clark's figure was four or five laws under urgency in each of her three terms.
Parties singing different tunes on due process depending on what side of the debating chamber they happen to be sitting on is no new thing. Former deputy prime minister Michael Cullen's recently published memoir recalls that even Sir Geoffrey Palmer, an arch defender (and sometime architect) of the limited checks and balances in our system wasn't opposed to ramming legislation through Parliament.
Read the full article: Demand the Debate campaign is hypocritical
Homeowners can breathe a sigh of relief - September 23
You might not be able to hear it behind the masks, but New Zealand's homeowners breathed a collective sigh of relief on Tuesday after a speech from assistant Reserve Bank governor Christian Hawkesby suggested the Bank would take its time with forecast interest rate hikes.
Rates will still go up - but most now anticipate hikes will be slower than expected.
We may finally stop working for home, but those lucky enough to own homes, will still find their homes continue working for them.
Read the full article: Homeowners can breathe a sigh of relief
Mahuta should be afraid of Three Waters revolt - July 15
Central government has never been afraid of its local government counterparts. Parliament could abolish all 78 councils in a few sitting days if it really wanted to - in fact, in 1989, Parliament nearly did just that, amalgamating 850 local bodies into 86.
But if the Government isn't afraid of local government, it is occasionally afraid of local government politicians, who have the power to frustrate and delay central government policies, and whip up extraordinary levels of support for things the Government doesn't want to do.
This is particularly true in the case of Auckland, which since the creation of the Super City has become the first political body that can seriously challenge the political power of central government. Auckland has used its might to rinse the Government for the City Rail Link, the ability to implement a regional fuel tax, and the expensive ATAP programme - things other councils can only dream of.
Now, Auckland is on the verge of leading a revolt over the Government's Three Waters reforms, which would see 67 councils essentially stripped of their water assets, allegedly for their own good.
Read the full article: Mahuta should be afraid of Three Waters revolt