Well, this Compass Point marks the end of what has been quite an eventful year. There’s been some highs, some challenges, and some losses. High on the list of losses was the passing of Bunny Rathbone in early November. I know this was a loss felt keenly by many people in the orienteering community, and Bunny seemed to be one of those people who, despite not being particularly extrovert or loud, permeated the orienteering community and had a massive influence through her positivity, and friendly encouraging style. When the ONZ Council explored what values underpin orienteering in NZ last year, Bunny was one of those people identified as role modelling many of the good things that orienteering is. A great role model, a deserved life member of ONZ, and someone who will be missed. RIP Bunny.
Another unfortunate loss, although not anywhere near as significant as a human loss, has been the removal of championship status for Oceania. It was the only reasonable thing to do given the inability of Australian athletes to travel to NZ, however has been disappointing – for athletes, but especially for the Organising team/s who’d been putting the mahi in leading up to this. The good news for NZ based athletes however is the events that were the core Oceania programme will still happen, and coinciding with the transition to the new Covid protection framework (traffic light system) which allows people to travel across NZ now, we expect good numbers of orienteers to this event.
Of course being a major event with good numbers of entrants, the restrictions associated with the Covid protection framework means that anyone over 12 will need to be vaccinated to attend. For those orienteers who remain hesitant around vaccination, this is a good reminder that larger or major events will only be accessible for vaccinated attendees, and we encourage those people to get onto it. ONZ is currently working on guidelines around the Covid protection framework for the sport. Whilst we recognise this is a thorny issue for some, we also recognise that many people who orienteer are at the ends of the age spectrum (young, and old) who are vulnerable to Covid infection, as well as some people who are immunocompromised. So this safety consideration is at the forefront of our minds as we develop guidelines for the sport.
So whilst there have been losses and challenges to deal with, there is also much to feel positive about. As happened in 2020, orienteers showed we are more than able to adapt to challenges and figure ways to solve problems. We have had some fantastic events this year, Nationals at Easter was a real highlight, as was the MTBO Nationals in Otago, and I know each club has done what they can to provide events and experiences their members enjoy and appreciate. Looking ahead to 2022 we have a great schedule of events lined up, starting with the (non) Oceania events in January – what a treat to start the year, and I look forward to seeing many of you there. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy a great Xmas, and feel able to start the new year with some dreams and plans for the year ahead – who knows, some of you may even get to Travel!