It was a year of sorrows. It was a sorry excuse of a year. It was also a year of sorries. As of yesterday, they were still flowing. Labour MP Phil Goff apologised to the Inspector-General of Security Intelligence, Cheryl Gwyn, for revealing to the media the contents of her report into the SIS' handling of Cameron Slater's Official Information Act request.

Ironically, the bit of the report he revealed was the bit that called for the SIS to apologise to Goff. It turned into a swap meet of sorries - Goff got his apology from the SIS in return for apologising to Gwyn for telling all and sundry he was getting an apology.

State Services boss Iain Rennie also had to apologise for allowing Canterbury Earthquake Recovery head Roger Sutton to apologise at a press conference. Rennie's crime was that he was seen to have given Sutton a platform to downplay the impact of improper behaviour which resulted in his resignation. Other notable apologies of the year included Kim Dotcom's apology for his "toxic brand" costing Mana's Hone Harawira his seat.

Former Labour leader David Cunliffe was the sorriest of them all. He developed Sorry Tourettes. He just couldn't stop. He had a bizarre affliction which meant he felt compelled to apologise for things he shouldn't have apologised for but couldn't bring himself to apologise for things he ought to. So he apologised for being a man, for using a blind trust for donations, for wearing his red scarf too much, for taking a holiday a few months before the election and for his wife taking it upon herself to set up a Twitter account.


He apologised for everything bar Labour's atrocious election result which he instead painted as a triumph because its vote had collapsed by a lesser proportion than in the previous elections. By the end of it all the thing he felt sorriest for was himself.

Cunliffe was not alone in feeling sorry for himself. Others included Judith Collins, who will be more than happy to forget 2014 ever happened. Laila Harre stands alongside her, as does the aforementioned Harawira. A recent addition to the ranks includes Finance Minister Bill English. Having spent all of 2014 telling people his surplus was real, the Mythbusters department in the Treasury waited until the 12th month to expose it as a myth.

The Prime Minister took the news better than English. Key's response was that a surplus delayed by a year was better than no surplus at all.

English simply continued to maintain the surplus did exist. There were initial suspicions that English was going through five stages of grief over his dearly departed surplus and was in denial. But English was simply being optimistic. He is the ultimate Little Engine That Could. He is an imaginative soul. His skill when it comes to cooking the books is enough to earn him a Michelin star. A pinch of delayed spending here, swap a few ingredients round so cash payments are instead treated as a loan and ta-da - the surplus is back in the oven, rising again.

The Prime Minister was also at the sorries, all two of them. There was an apology letter to Cameron Slater after Key released the email that raised questions about Judith Collins' conduct as a minister: questions she was cleared of.

There was also the apology to the family of Phillip John Smith's victims after Key made a flippant joke about warning Chilean President Michelle Bachelet that Chile was host to a New Zealander she might not want to have lunch with. But in general, his approach to sorry was the reverse of Cunliffe - the things he did not apologise for vastly outnumbered the things he did. As far as Key was concerned, any suggestion he or his office had overreached in dirty politics dealings was as mythical as English's surplus.

There is hope of a less sorrowful 2015. For a start, Labour's new leader, Andrew Little, has made it clear he doesn't intend to apologise. Instead he will do things the old-fashioned way and simply blame the Government for everything. This includes the weather.

During Labour's leadership contest he told an audience in New Plymouth: "Since the re-election of the National Government only a few weeks ago, the weather has never been worse ... All I'm saying is that snow on the mountain in November has never happened under a Labour Government."


After such a year, none of them deserves awards. So let us look ahead to who might win it in 2015. That award hopefully goes to Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem, who has put the Government on notice that she has muscle and will flex it, probing the handling of Official Information Act requests including by ministers and their offices. Who's sorry now then?