It's that time of year again when Spy gets out the crystal and magic 8-balls, looks up at the stars, consults the tea leaves and reads the tarot cards to try to predict and interpret who will make our headlines in the first year of the 20s. It's not an exact science but we take the mood of the scene.
PM's star-studded wedding
The tarot cards are showing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford will marry early in the New Year in Gisborne. Neve makes the most beautiful flower girl. The PM calls the nuptials early in the year as she wants to be fair and put distance between the happy occasion and the election. The planned low-key wedding unwittingly goes global when the happy couple is polite and invite people they have worked with or want to return a favour to and many of them accept the invitation. International media go crazy when pop star Lorde, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Vogue editor Dame Anna Wintour, CNN's Christiane Amanpour, The Late Show's Stephen Colbert, world leaders including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters are all in attendance at the Kiwi wedding and barbecue of the year.
Benedict Cumberbatch's Kiwi investment
When it comes to celebrity investment in New Zealand, the magic 8-ball hit on Benedict Cumberbatch to buy a Central Otago vineyard for his use during UK winters. Cumberbatch is in New Zealand this month acting in directing legend Jane Campion's Netflix Western drama The Power of the Dog. He falls in love with the Southland summer lifestyle while out on location with his co-star Kirsten Dunst. Kiwis genuinely like Cumberbatch and no fuss is kicked up because the Sherlock Holmes' star is a foreign investor. However, he does have problems with the local council on heritage issues when it comes to remodelling the century-old Victorian mansion on the property. When Campion's movie is on its publicity junket the following year, Cumberbatch presents fellow Kiwi vineyard owner Graham Norton with a bottle of sav from his Cumberbatch winery.
Hobbit loses the Ring
Amazon's Lord of the Rings series will have good and bad headlines throughout the year as PRs for the show correct the media on its working name. "Amazon Original Series Based On The Lord Of The Rings." Kiwi media take the easy way of describing it using "AOSBOTLOTR " - an acronym, which earns itself a place in the Lord of the Rings urban dictionary. Filming the series will have hold-ups, mainly because the specially designed one-of-a-kind ring gets lost by a hobbit and can't be digitally replaced on the film. Lion Rock at Piha is a focus in the series for Gandalf. West Auckland locals and Auckland Transport never forgive the production after it becomes more famous than Hobbiton.
The diverse Block
After struggling to find the right mix, The Block will have a diverse cast this year. The biggest risk it takes will be making a change to its stereotypical casting rut by featuring a gay couple. To make it work, the reality show goes down the famous route and pulls off a cross-network grab too. Reality-TV mad Breakfast weatherman Matty McLean and his perfectly suited real estate beau, Ryan Teece, become keen Blockheads. Mark Richardson does not offend either of them during filming. A nice tie-in occurs after Mike McRoberts bids adieu to the Newshub news desk to take up an incredible offer to sell high-end real estate. The talented MC becomes an auctioneer too and, you guessed it, he is trusted to sell off one of the team's houses in the series grand final. With the McRoberts' charm, it breaks Block selling history.
Saudi Arabia joins the America's Cup
Like a mirage out of the desert, Saudi Arabia is permitted a late entry into the America's Cup after entering an AC75 foiling monohull in a regatta in Cagliari, Sardinia in April. The Saudi's don't do very well, but the money spent in the local port is 10 times what is expected. Grant Dalton makes way for the new syndicate where they unconscionably manage to split Blair Tuke and Peter Burling. The crystal ball is not clear which one jumps ship from Team NZ, but the money offered is good enough for all concerned. Former Foreign Minister Murray McCully is appointed the Saudi team's special envoy to New Zealand. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud attends and, interestingly, so too does President Trump a month before he leaves the White House.
The Topp Twins' movie
Director Niki Caro looks at the tea leaves and realises she must make the well overdue ultimate Kiwi biographic movie about the incredible careers of legendary country music-singing comedy duo Jools and Lynda Topp. A casting call goes global and the competition is fierce. Strangely, none of the big-name overseas actresses can master the Nu Zeeland accent, let alone that of Camp Mother and Camp Leader or Ken and Ken. The roles fall locally to good friends Danielle Cormack and Claire Chitham. They look great in denim overalls and it turns out, they can sing country music in tune too. Chitham surprises everyone with her yodelling skills and award nominations follow.
Possum to the moon
Following the successes of Rocket Lab and as a sure bet election winner, National Party leader Simon Bridges will give a bold speech about New Zealand's greatest achievement to come since the cycleway. Almost imitating JFK, he plans a New Zealand to the moon programme, which aims to put the first Kiwi possum on the moon before the end of the decade. Former Air NZ chief executive Rob Fyfe, former Prime Minister John Key and Nanogirl Michelle Dickinson become cheerleaders and directors of the company that the government creates to get our first possum to the moon.
Dame Valerie Adams once again becomes our Golden Girl of the Olympic Games, winning her fourth Olympic medal and her third gold medal with the shot put in Tokyo. A surprise late entry in boxing is made in the form of Sonny Bill Williams. After a surprisingly successful first season with Canadian league club the Toronto Wolfpack he decides he has one more shot at Olympic glory, and if anyone can juggle multi-sports it's SBW. Not surprisingly his new boss Wolfpack owner David Argyle supports him fully and thinks it will be a great new angle for a Hollywood movie. The crystal ball goes cloudy on SBW's medal chances.
Paul Henry buys Three
With the penumbral lunar eclipse in June, after several quite real offers of interest in buying MediaWorks off Three, a surprise bid will come in from Paul Henry and his good friend Diane Foreman. Purchasing it for a steal, the pair will go on to develop numerous shows. One reality show, Nudists of Palm Springs, will become a global franchise hit like The Real Housewives franchise. It rakes in the cash, like most things Foreman touches, and indeed Henry. Three is revived and its essence preserved for the next decade, and best of all, everyone at Three loves Paul.
MP Spoke Pro
After taking air out of the tyres of cyclists through the country with his cycleway-only policy for bikes, National MP Chris Bishop will look for a positive spin and get in behind the new Black Spoke Pro Cycling Academy team – the only UCI continental squad with an end goal of seeing more New Zealand cyclists competing and wining on the world stage. Bishop does his bit for awareness and sponsorship by joining the team on cycling missions, resulting in him starting a parliamentary cycling team. He gets fit too.
Influencer bubble bursts
Under the star sign of Leo, 5G conspiracy theorist factions come together and while trying to block electromagnetic fields from the network they unwittingly take Instagram down. It's 10 times worse than when the social media app stopped the amount of "like" posts being seen by the community. The app is down throughout Australasia for three months causing the careers of some influencers to tank, those with multi-platform-friendly brands survive. Forget 5G - 6G looks to promise instant holograms into the social media sphere – but it needs the very specific ingredient of New Zealand pāua shell for the reflective light to work on Android devices. The Government forms a working group to discuss the pros and cons of farming pāua en masse.
Fit for equal pay
The Black Ferns will attract a major sponsor in the form of an FMCG store. After taking advice from a focus group, a trans-Tasman supermarket chain is seen to make an offer to the world champions that will rival Adidas in its sponsorship of the All Blacks. Meanwhile the new AB's coach gets tired of comparisons with Scott Robertson, the people's choice, and decides to prove a point by getting as fit as some of his top players to show his dedication. It works, he breaks the mould of Henry and Hansen and becomes the fittest AB coach since John Mitchell.