20 January 2012
Nelson's sunshine capital title was clinched – according to provisional data from Niwa – at the start of this month, but there was something missing – our sunhat.
The sunniest city graciously presented a hat by Serious Straws to Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne after his region won the title in 2010.
The title has been made official in a Niwa release and the hat was returned to its rightful owners – Nelsonians – during a ceremony at Wakefield Quay yesterday.
Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio, who accepted the hat on behalf of Nelsonians, arrived at the ceremony in bare feet, board shorts, a T-shirt and sunglasses. Just to rub it in.
"[Mr Bonne] has been giving me quite a hard time over the last 12 months," said Mr Miccio. Luckily, the hat fits – as he has the same sized head the Whakatane mayor.
"It needs a new ribbon and it needs to be somewhere public ... maybe I will just wear it all the time," he said.
Mr Bonne, who brought some cans of Whakatane Sunshine down with him, said his region's "sunshine factory" was to blame for the loss of the title.
"We canned too much, so it reduced the sunshine," he said.
But he would not reveal the factory's technique. "That's a secret, because we don't want Nelson to start doing it," he said.
Nelson Tasman Tourism chief executive Lynda Keene welcomed Mr Bonne and his wife, Linda, to the ceremony by saying: "Welcome to sunny Nelson."
She brought the New Zealand Sunshine Cup with her, already engraved with "Nelson 2011".
Ms Keene's twin sister, Lesley Immink, lives in Whakatane and also works in tourism as the chief executive of the Inbound Tour Operators Council.
"I text her every time the sunshine hours are in the council's publication.
"It's like `Bad Luck' or `Ha Ha'. There's lots of ribbing going on," said Ms Keene.
"Nelsonians are incredibly proud of the sunshine record. They are apologetic if it's not sunny all the time, which I think is endearing," she said.
Mr Bonne said the Whakatane District Council would have to take "Sunshine Capital of New Zealand" off its website, but he said that was okay: "We'll change it to the sunshine capital of the North Island."
He said he wanted Nelson to look after the hat for him, "because I expect it back next year".
"If we're getting low [on sunshine hours] at the end of the year, we'll just open more cans."