The Country - Top 10 articles of 2016

It's been a big year for the country, and a huge year for The Country!

Bringing you the best in rural news and views on radio, online, on mobile, on social media and in print, The Country has built on the success of its predecessors The Farming Show and The Land.

Here's a reminder of some of the year's biggest stories - The Country's 10 most popular stories, shows and interviews of 2016:

1: Earthquake angels: Volunteers pitch in at damaged homes

David Fisher's story about three men in a four-wheel drive doing what they can to help Kaikoura earthquake victims struck a major chord with The Country's readers.

Builders Tyler Fifield, Josh Tomlinson-Nott and Michael Kerr loaded a four-wheel drive with chainsaws, tarpaulin, rope, nail guns and other gear and headed south from Blenheim in search of those who needed help, having no idea at the time how much help was needed.

"We were woefully unprepared. Blenheim escaped unscathed. Fifteen minutes down the road and there's houses lying on the ground."

2: Earthquake prediction goes viral

Clinton Llewellyn's interview with Nigel Gray went as viral as the subject of the story. Gray supposedly predicted the Kaikoura earthquake, posting a "heads up" on his Weather Modification Watch New Zealand Facebook page that people should watch for a major earthquake, quite possibly in the South Pacific, on November 14 or "a few days either side," due to the increased gravitational pull of the supermoon.

Gray rejected the notion that he and the thousands who followed his Facebook page were "conspiracy theorists".

But: "If I do suddenly go missing, you'll know the men in black have got me."

3: 30,000 bees rescued from Kaikoura

Kaikoura again - this time with a twist. Military personnel assisting in the wake of the monster earthquake rescued a Kaikoura man's 30,000 bees.

"Many people took what they could fit into a suitcase or two; the things closest to their hearts. One of the evacuees just could not leave his bees behind," said Commander Simon Rooke of HMNZS Canterbury.

"The ship does a meticulous count of everything we bring on board as a matter of course. Last Saturday, we evacuated 192 people together with 2.3 tonnes of baggage, one cat, 14 dogs and about 30,000 bees. They were one thing we didn't count exactly."

4: The Country Today: Assassination Day edition

Back to conspiracy theories, and back to Kaikoura as well. The most popular show of the year aired on November 22, 53 years to the day after JFK was assassinated.

Guests included inland Kaikoura farmer John Meuli, Labour's Damien O'Connor, and the panel Jane Smith and Nadine Porter.

5: Big read: Are children disconnected from reality?

It's not all farming you know! Juliet Rowan's investigation into whether screen time is wrecking our kids was a popular article. Rowan, a mother herself, chats to another mother, school principals and a library manager to help shed light on an issue many parents around the country are still getting their heads around.

6: Poachers kill, maim cattle

Cruelty to animals reared its ugly head far too many times in 2016. As did stories about poachers and rustlers preying on farmers livelihoods. In this case heads and entrails were all that remained of four steers poached from an Okoia paddock. It was a distressing sight for farmer Blair Kerwin, who was forced to put down another three animals that were injured, one with puncture holes which appeared like bullet wounds, another with a damaged skull, and the third whose throat had been slit.

"This is the worst case ... Pit bulls got in and ripped the face off one and ages ago one calf got jumped, but nothing like this," said Mr Kerwin.

7: The Country pays tribute to Pinetree

Jamie Mackay marks the 80th birthday of an All Blacks legend, kicking off with a rip-roaring Southland-based Colin Meads anecdote.

8: Professor Jacqueline Rowarth responds to Rachel Stewart's claims

When columnist Rachel Stewart said New Zealand should cut its cow numbers by 80 per cent, Professor Jacqueline Rowarth hit back.

In an interview on The Country, Professor Rowarth says Stewart misses the point about dairy and what it means for New Zealand's economy as well as what it contributes to the beef industry. This in turn helps New Zealand to pay for education, health and infrastructure.

9: Winston Peters: Kiwis have a right to know

Winston Peters has proven a bit of a favourite with The Country's readers in 2016. In this article by Mike Barrington, Peters says the Attorney-General's finding that a register of land owned by foreigners will breach New Zealand's Bill of Rights is "balderdash".

"The Attorney-General thinks having such registrar will breach the privacy of foreign buyers. What about the right of New Zealanders to know what is going on in their own country?"

10: Winston Peters will not be told to shut up about Silver Fern farms

The Country's Jamie Mackay laces up his boxing gloves for another verbal sparring match with Winston Peters. Will he win? Does he ever?

- The Country

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