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‘News predictions for 2024: Catastrophe, shortages and moral clashes’

A review of the past decade has found that the most likely big events in New Zealand this year will be a major disaster with poor emergency management, a crisis in supply of an essential food or good, and a major clash over moral issues.

The predictions arise from a review of the annual list of public relations challenges issued by BlacklandPR, in which the most challenging events have consistently been natural disasters, issues in supplies of essential services or supplies, and social discord over moral values.

BlacklandPR Director Mark Blackham said disasters were always in the top three most testing events over the decade, and shortages and moral clashes always in the top ten.

“We will have a natural or manmade disaster this year, and invariably institutions will be surprised and mess up their response to the physical or emotional impact.

“We will also see some sort of major problem with an important food or essential service – most likely due to insufficient planning or management.

“In the downtimes between practical threats to lives and livelihoods in 2024 our society will be agitated over a moral conundrum, or a moral panic.”

Blackland’s 2023 list illustrated the pattern, judging that the toughest event was the Hawkes Bay and Auckland floods, followed by nationwide egg shortages and contamination of drinking water, and debates over Posie Parker and vaping.

Blackham said the emotive response defines how awkward an issue will be to manage.

“The most notable mistake from past crises is the failure of people and organisations to respond quickly and adequately.

“They fail to appreciate the direct impact on other people, and they almost always under-estimate the power of emotional responses to quickly entangle an issue.”

Cyclone Gabrielle was the toughest event to manage because it caused the strongest emotional reaction, high national awareness, and required a complex response.

“When lives are lost, at risk, and under stress, people are shocked and fearful. Continued disruption makes people angry. They look for someone to blame, and because large events always reveal mistakes, there will be scapegoats.


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