The Rotorua Daily Post is looking back at the stories of 2020. Here's what made headlines in December.
Half the organisations facing charges over the deadly Whakaari/White Island eruption that claimed 22 lives have come forward, forgoing name suppression ahead of the first court appearance.
WorkSafe NZ has laid criminal charges against 10 organisations and three individuals following the catastrophic eruption on December 9 last year.
Jennifer Sandison scrimped, saved and "sacrificed a lot" to get on the property ladder.
When she finally found her home, she fell in love with a "lush" tūī-laden kōwhai tree on the front berm, even burying her 12-year-old daughter's placenta underneath it, now that home was finally permanent.
On Friday, she returned home from a school trip to the beach to find the tree - which is on council land - had been cut down.
Rotorua, you did it!
Yesterday, the sixth annual Fill the Bus for the Salvation Army Foodbank was held and the previous record number of items, set last year, was obliterated.
The Rotorua community well and truly got behind the cause and donated 9376 items worth $18,752.
Rotorua baby Karlos Stephens was just learning to crawl when he was killed. His death is not the first and will not be the last.
The Bay of Plenty continues to grapple with a serious child abuse problem, ranking consistently as the worst or second-worst in the country over the past 10 years.
Reporter Caroline Fleming followed the case through the trial and spoke to Bay of Plenty Police district co-ordinator of child protection Lindsay Pilbrow, who played a key role in securing the manslaughter conviction.
Survivors, families of the dead, first responders and people around Whakatāne have observed a minute's silence at the same time as the Whakaari/White Island eruption one year ago.
Many have gathered at Mataatua Marae for a commemoration service on the anniversary. The ceremony is being live-streamed at a nearby reserve where members of the public also stood in silence.
Homeless people living in the city's motels is not the long game - the Government wants them in housing, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.
But she would rather have "shelter than no shelter at all" for those in need.
When we are hit "we are hit hard", says a Rotorua jewellery store owner commenting on the rising number of thefts from retailers.
The spike in petty crime costs retailers $1 billion nationally a year and shoplifters had become more brazen and aggressive in the city, one security firm reports.
Kimalyn Smith-Filipo was passionate about her Tokelauan and Māori heritage - and those cultures came together to mourn after the talented teen died suddenly.
Those who knew Smith-Filipo say she was warm-hearted, radiant, had a passion for Pasifika cultures and people gravitated to her.
The 17-year-old died suddenly on Friday after a "freak accident at home" and her death has left a "gaping hole" in the community.
Rotorua's controversial i-Park parking system cost the district just over $1.7 million last year, consuming almost 84 per cent of its just over $2m parking revenue.
Despite this, i-Park's drain on parking revenues was not mentioned in Rotorua Lakes Council's 2019/2020 Annual Report.
Record house prices month after month, low interest rates creating more competition, a cap on the first-home grant that doesn't match current house values and a severe housing shortage.
Has this perfect storm of factors pulled the property ladder out of reach of first-home buyers?
Investors and first-home buyers looking to get on the property ladder have helped boost the median property value in Fordlands by almost 30 per cent over the past year.
Fordlands remained Rotorua's cheapest suburb - promoting a surge in demand with properties being snapped up at a median of just 12 days, according to a new property report.
The number of young people sleeping in parks and reserves, couch surfing and in emergency housing is on the rise in the Bay of Plenty, social agencies say.
The reasons vary, from trauma to their family becoming homeless as a casualty of the housing crisis and the pandemic, and those at the coalface expect it to get worse.
Rotorua man Steve Newland wanted to create a Christmas tree that was more than meets the eye.
And when his homemade tree transformed from a present on the ground to a full standing Christmas decorated robot - he knew he had done just that. He had created a Transformer tree.
An electronic sign slating Rotorua's Hemo Gorge roundabout sculpture as a "monument to waste" will be investigated for potentially breaching district plan rules.
The sign is located on private land bordering Mokoia Drive and SH5, about 100m from the Hemo Gorge roundabout where the 12m-high 3D-printed sculpture Te Ahi Tupua stands.
A machete, knuckledusters, a homemade bong, brick, knives, methamphetamine, cannabis and three cans of alcohol are just some of the items people have tried to smuggle into Rotorua Courthouse.
Information released under the Official Information Act has revealed the disturbing items security officers have confiscated off visitors to the courthouse over the past year.