Welcome 2014: 10 reasons why this year should be a great one

Reasons for optimism abound - the economy is on the turn, some great bands are coming, we go to the polls - and twerking's already history.

Miley Cyrus helped 'twerk' become a word in the Oxford English Dictionary. Photo / AP
Miley Cyrus helped 'twerk' become a word in the Oxford English Dictionary. Photo / AP

1 Exciting sights and sounds

You will get a taste of world-class music acts and have Hollywood blockbusters made in your backyard. The number of international acts gracing New Zealand's shores continues to swell, and the year's line-up already includes The Rolling Stones, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Dolly Parton, Bruce Springsteen, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. New tax breaks have made sure Middle-earth continues to be a hot destination for movie makers and this year New Zealand will become the backdrop for James Cameron's Avatar series, Tobey Maguire's sci-fi thriller Z for Zachariah and Slow West starring Michael Fassbender.

Snoop Dogg will perform.
Snoop Dogg will perform.

2 You're more likely to get a pay rise.

The economy is set to boom in 2014. Export prices are at record highs, the Christchurch re-build is about to hit full steam and GDP growth is tipped to go close to 4 per cent.

This should be the best year for New Zealand business since 2007 and the first when we can start talking about the global financial crisis in the past tense. As confidence returns we should see companies ready to expand and some improvement in the job market. Globally there are still challenges. Much of the rest of the world, including Australia, is not in such great shape. But New Zealand is leading the recovery and that in itself is cause for cheer.

3 It's an election year

Normally that's enough to put people off. But this year, you are the centre of the political universe. Everyone in Parliament wants your vote. So vote for the changes you want to see in New Zealand and the politicians you want to lead us into the future. Whether you think National needs to pack its bags or the Greens should have more clout, it'll be up to you. The hottest issues tipped to divide polling booths this year are: child poverty and the wage gap; housing affordability; the price of electricity; Maori affairs; and watching party leaders battle it out.

4 All-conquering All Blacks

The All Blacks never look too far ahead, one game at a time and all that. So let's do it for them. A world record beckons after an unbeaten 2013. A clean sweep of the three-test series against England in June will see Steve Hansen's side equal the major nations' mark of 17 straight wins, setting up the record chance against the Wallabies in Sydney. Records are nice, but World Cups are essential. The 2015 defence will already loom large and New Zealand sports fans like nothing better than agonising over the World Cup preparations. Let the battles, and the debates, begin.

5 It's never been such a good time to be alive

Global rates of illness, famine, poverty and war are at an all-time low while economic development, technology, education and social equality markers have never been stronger. World Health Organisation data shows malaria deaths around the world continuing to fall and the United Nations believes hunger could now be eradicated from Africa by 2025. Multiple studies show wartime death rates have never been lower and despite climate fears, deaths from weather events have fallen 92 per cent since the 1920s. The International Monetary Fund estimates the world's GDP will exceed $93 billion this year as economists say inequality is levelling out. More children are being educated in more countries that are also affording equal rights across race, gender and sexuality.

6 Twerking has already happened

Miley Cyrus' provocative performance at the VMAs made the dance craze one of the most talked about in recent memory. Her rendition of the dance's signature hip thrusting and rear-end shaking was one of the most watched videos on YouTube, helped "twerk" become a word in the Oxford English Dictionary and topped Google's Most Searched lists. Best thing about the fad? It's over.

7 Lydia Ko - and the Football World Cup

The phenomenal teenager Lydia Ko has joined the professional golf ranks and New Zealand is ready to lap up anything and everything about the North Harbour prodigy, who is primed to be the world No 1. Even Ko will take a back seat when the world stops for the world game mid-year. The Fifa World Cup in Brazil will be a chance for Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi to crown his career. Messi may have two more World Cups in him but may not be at the peak of his powers by then. Brazil will be sentimental favourites, but champions Spain remain the pacesetters despite some vulnerability. The All Whites failed to qualify so there won't be any anxiety - sit back and enjoy the show.

8 Lorde's reign and Eleanor Catton's shining success

New Zealand will continue to be gripped by the homegrown, world-dominating young women. We'll find out if Lorde bags any of the four Grammy's she is nominated for, what her next track has in store for us and whether or not Taylor Swift will attend her 18th birthday party. Catton is yet to return home following her Man Booker Prize win, so fingers crossed her globetrotting in proving inspiration for her next page turner.

9 You can go to space

Line up for your ticket aboard the first commercial space flights, Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic flights are due to happen this year. Book with urgency as the Branson family are riding shotgun on the maiden voyage from the Spaceport in New Mexico, and each flight only accommodates six passengers. Ticket prices will be close to $300,000 to launch 112km into the air aboard SpaceShipOne or SpaceShipTwo at three times the speed of sound.

10 Housing becomes more affordable (maybe)

Isn't it always the year of housing in New Zealand? This year will be no different. Auckland and Christchurch house shortages are being addressed with big construction, fast-track resource consent and land availability schemes put in place. The Reserve Bank's introduction last year of loan to value ratios and this year's imminent mortgage interest rates rises should reduce the temperature a little more, taking away some of the pressure from excess demand. LVR exemptions are now also in place on new housing, encouraging more building to further ease pressures. While a collapse or severe adjustment is not off the table, some of the tension has at least come off, making the outlook a little more rosy for our single most valuable asset.

And a disclaimer: Of course, there are 365 days ahead when it may not work out quite so rosily. But there's always next year.

- NZ Herald

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