Whatever happened to... we catch up with some of the Kiwis who made headlines in 2019

What came next for these Weekly wonders?

We catch up with the Kiwis from some of our most-read stories in 2019, and thank them for allowing us to be part of their journey.

Postscript: Te Puke post office

It might only be three months into an ambitious community ownership experiment, but the Te Puke post office takeover is proving to be a winning transaction.
When Kiwibank announced last year it was pulling banking services out of the nation's kiwifruit capital, plans were set in motion to buy the postal services business and create
a visitor information and community service.
Six passionate volunteers formed a trust and began asking locals to open their wallets to save the mail service at the heart of the Bay of Plenty township.
The response was amazing, with residents and local organisations pledging more than $65,000 so the newly formed Te Puke Centre Charitable Trust could bid for the postal services.
Revamped as a social enterprise, the post office re-opened on October 7.
When the Weekly catches up with trust chairperson Karen Summerhays (61), business is brisk as we near the busiest days of the postal calendar.
"The Christmas rush has definitely hit us. We're trying to work out ways to bust the queue," she says, laughing, adding they've even hired an extra worker.
Karen says the response has been phenomenal, with locals faithfully supporting the venture and using the building's shared community spaces.
"Within the space of a few months, the postal service is already paying for its footprint in the building," she excitedly tells us.
"We've got a meeting room that is being used very regularly now and we're only a few months in. We know that we're doing the right thing in the right place."
Now the trust's focus is a major fundraising drive to bring in $100,000 by March, to go towards finishing the renovations and completing the community spaces.
"To see phase one of our big plan come to fruition was the pinnacle of the year, really," says Karen.
"We feel very positive about the future."

The job no-one wanted: Tracey Goodall

We first met Tracey Goodall earlier this year as she was settling into the small King Country town of Taumarunui after taking on a job billed as the one no-one wanted.
Despite a $150,000 salary, Forgotten World Adventures had struggled to find a suitable applicant for its vacant general manager position, and the story made global headlines.
In stepped Welsh-born Tracey (42), lured by the promise of outdoor adventures in some of the North Island's most picturesque backdrops and a laid-back lifestyle to match.
Immersing herself in the role and community, she and partner Michal Mudroncik (35) bought a do-up, adopted a dog and started taking lessons in te reo.
But 18 months after taking the job, Tracey has moved on, to an even more tempting post in the nation's geothermal capital.
Now four months into her new job as executive manager of commerce at Destination Rotorua, Tracey says there was a touch of serendipity to the move.
One day, after a meeting with the person who did the equivalent job at Taumarunui, she said to her partner, 'Imagine doing that job? In the future, that would be the job I'd love.'
"The next week I got an email from an agency saying, 'We'd like you to apply for this job.'"
So she did just that.
She's pleased with what she accomplished in Taumarunui – including being twice named people's choice winner at the New Zealand Tourism Awards – and left Forgotten World Adventures in a position that its owner, Ian Balme, has been able to take over her old role.
"I'm really proud for getting that recognition for the company, for the owners, for all the work they'd done in the past and the teams who made that happen. People work hard, so to have a nationally recognised award is huge in tourism."
With renovations finished at their Taumarunui home, it's a fond farewell to a memorable chapter in their lives.
"The manaakitanga there really is amazing and the people were so welcoming," Tracey says.
"I think life is a journey, and Taumarunui is such a beautiful part of that journey."

Ultra determined: Steph Marshall

May 29, 2019, was the day Steph Marshall planned to conquer the world.
The only female competitor in the 60km extreme event in the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon, Steph (25) was a quarter of the way in when she lost her footing after taking a wrong turn.
She picked herself up and continued before breathing difficulties forced her to quit.
She was flown to hospital, where she was found to have ruptured three ligaments in her back.
Once back home in Auckland, the environmental scientist had hoped to put her disappointment behind her with a decent placing in the Taupo Ultramarathon in October.
Sadly, that didn't happen either, with the damage to her spine worse than initially thought.
"I have been undergoing x-rays and MRIs and they found bulged disks and a crack in one of the vertebrae so I haven't really been running," says Steph.
Still, for the past few months, Steph has been working with runners from the Achilles foundation, which helps people with disabilities race alongside able-bodied runners. All going to plan, she'll guide Stephen Jenkins in his first trail event.
She has also been invited to compete in a 100km race in Jordan, so that's her current goal.
"I still have every intention of getting back to Nepal for redemption, but I am looking at 2021 now so I have another year to fully prepare myself – so I don't experience the same heartbreak again."

Operation: North & South

As Christmas approaches, Laura North is in Sydney with her son Elijah while he undergoes a round of revolutionary treatment.
The army captain mum of four, together with her captain husband Tane (39) can afford the treatment thanks to an epic fundraising trek they undertook from Wellington to Auckland this year.
The blind and disabled three-year-old is now getting world-leading help from the Neurological and Physical Abilitation Centre (NAPA).
Accomplishing the 700km feat in just 11 days, Laura (34) says they didn't find the going too tough, buoyed by generous locals on every leg.
"We had an amazing time," she says.
"We were blown away by the people who came out and helped us along the way. It was just incredible."
By the end the couple had netted a whopping $90,000, well above their target.
A few months later Elijah, who was born with microcephaly and an undiagnosed genetic condition, started treatment at the centre and accomplished a major milestone within days.
"On the third day, Elijah crawled for the first time," says Laura.
"Now he crawls everywhere. We get excited every day because we see him crawl into a different room. It's been life-changing."
When the Weekly catches up with Laura, her son is back at the centre doing another intensive round of therapy, but they've had a setback.
"Unfortunately Elijah's popped a hernia so we're headed home to have surgery but we'll be coming back again next year."
Laura and Tane's eventual goal is to see their boy walk.
"I'm going to be realistic and say it will probably be a few years away," says Laura.
"At the moment we want to get him to pull to stand and from there it will be cruising along furniture."
Laura says the family intends to give back to the community, having raised more money than anticipated.
"We're hoping to bring one family a year over here to the NAPA Centre.
"It's utterly life-changing. We were once told that Elijah wouldn't walk and I'm now pretty convinced he will."

The high life: Jo Morgan

Just over a year ago, Jo Morgan (65) was frantically clawing her way out of an avalanche in the Southern Alps, unaware her two climbing companions were dead.
She and friends Wolfgang Maier and Martin Hess had set out in the wee hours of October 31 to climb Mt Hicks, but as they neared the summit, the avalanche hit.
It was, she told the Weekly, "like a wave of ice coming towards you".
She still wonders why it was she who survived, but she makes a point of celebrating "every extra day of life".
"I had a marvellous motorbike trip mid-year, mainly in Siberia. The highlight was on a gravel road near Lake Baikal where I was pursued by a huge white wolf-like beast leading a pack. I felt like I was on a nature show and I was the puny gazelle."
She also did a 10-day trek in North Korean mountains.
Her life goal is to become the first grandmother to climb all 23 of New Zealand's highest peaks.

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