The dawn of a new year invites the mind to entertain endless possibilities, especially in a country so lucky. New Zealand enters 2015 with its dollar nearly as valuable as that of the signature "lucky country" next door. Three days ago Infratil and the New Zealand Superannuation Fund bought an Australian retirement village company for $670 million taking advantage of the rising kiwi. One swallow does not signal a summer of investment that would reverse the direction of transtasman ownership but it is another step of confidence.
After two very good years, there is every reason to look forward to another. New Zealand has found itself out front of the international economy in the slow climb out of global financial crisis. It is better than lagging behind but we need to share the lead. We need the big economies to power up again, especially those that provide our major markets.
The United States is showing promise, China and Australia might languish a bit longer. Europe is still entangled in currency confusion and Russia is in a dire state largely of its own making. But Asia is still the place to be. As China's growth slows to a rate more sustainable, India and Southeast Asia are showing new promise. The region has the world's highest growth forecast for 2015. Even before China's glut caused diary prices to drop, New Zealand's government was concerned the country had become too reliant on a single market. This year new effort must go into countries such as Indonesia, now with an impressive new elected President.
This is also surely the year for a conclusion to the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. Now that the quality of an agreement depends on President Obama's ability to wring concessions from Japan, the prospects are not as bright for a breakthrough on agriculture. But if the TPP produces a new international "gold standard" of rights and rules for trade and investment, New Zealand and its co-instigators, Singapore, Chile and Brunei, can be proud of the part they played.
Today New Zealand takes a seat in the United Nations Security Council for this year and next. Much of the council's attention will be taken by the threats posed to the world by the jihadist takeover of a swathe of Syria and Iraq but John Key has indicated New Zealand will try to focus the Council more strongly on root causes of Middle East tension, especially the lack or progress towards a Palestinian state.
He has ruled out a New Zealand military contribution to the war against Isis (Islamic State) though soldiers could be sent to Iraq in a training role this year.
It is a war in which "trainers" may easily be drawn into combat but the Government is clearly anxious that they not be. It is a sharp contrast to national attitudes a century ago.
Anzac Day this year is the centenary of the Gallipoli landings. We will look back on countries that went to war as dominions of the British empire and began to find their feet as independent nations. If those who fought could see the centenary they might agree it is a happy New Year.