A new year dawns. Suddenly it feels like a clean slate awaiting events and inviting new ideas. Tempting predictions.

Not much about 2019 is predictable. The globe will get warmer but that just makes the weather less predictable. The President of the United States will be less constrained by moderating advice but will face a Democrat controlled Congress. He may be less powerful at home, more imperious abroad.

His trade war with China might deepen into a cold war on all fronts. His sanctions on Iran might revive its nuclear weapons programme, destabilising the Middle East more. His withdrawal of troops from Syria and probably from Afghanistan will give more sway to Russia and allow the return of the Taliban.

Britain will stumble to Brexit on March 29. The European Union, though, will be more concerned with internal problems such as immigration policy, the Italian economy and nationalist governments in Eastern Europe. Externally it will watching Russian threats to Ukraine and the fears those feed in the Baltic states.


New Zealand enters the second year of a government that has spent most of its first year commissioning studies of reforms. Two of those reports are in and they illustrate the limited value of these exercises. The report on mental health contains few concrete proposals behind setting up a permanent advisory commission and spending more on a variety of mental health needs rather than the most serious illnesses.

Yet mental health is an under-serviced need in this country and the Government probably will do something significant on that front this year.

The task force on Tomorrow's Schools has given the Government plenty to do, much of it radical and will probably be watered down. It recommends much less autonomy for schools, with many of their decisions taken from boards of trustees and given back to district "hubs" of the Ministry of Education.

This could be the year the Green Party succeeds in having a Climate Commission set up to monitor greenhouse emissions targets it has set. But technology rather than politics might continue to lead the way against global warming. Electric cars will probably increase. Some predictions for 2019 have self-driving cars becoming available on-call for ride-sharing.

Foldable phones are predicted to return as smartphones with foldable screens, 5G compatible laptops are expected to appear this year.

A great deal of New Zealand's attention will be on the Rugby World Cup. Can the All Blacks make it a three-peat in Japan? And who will take over from coach Steve Hansen after the Cup?

Auckland, meanwhile, will be preparing for the hosting the America's Cup and the possible closing of Queen St to cars as part of a radical redesign of roads in the CBD. It is also local body election year, more than enough to keep us busy.