We do know how lucky we are

There’s nothing New Zealand likes more than punching above its weight (although, the question remains, exactly how much does New Zealand weigh? Those mountains and glaciers would surely add some heft). And to punch above said weight and to confirm our suspicions of brilliance, we require independent, foreign validation. Thankfully, a number of recent studies have placed us in the upper echelons. So let your sense of humble superiority swell, fellow Kiwis.

Since 2004, The World Economic Forum has released its Global Competitiveness Index to coincide with the arrival of the private jets in Davos. Each country’s relative economic strength was determined by analysing 12 pillars that produce 114 unique indicators.

And in the overall stakes, New Zealand came in 16th, up one place from the previous year and up from 23rd in 2012. The report ranked New Zealand highly when it came to soundness of banks (4th), public instititions (4th), higher education and training (10th) and capacity for innovation (15th). 

A more wide-ranging study, this one by WPP, the Wharton Business School and US News, factored in things like adventure, cultural influence, power and quality of life for its Best Countries report. And New Zealand took 11th spot overall. 

In the entrepreneurship category, we were ranked 16th, although, within that category, we weren't rated highly for innovation or technological expertise. And, as many other surveys have shown, we were near the top when it came to ease of doing business, with very little corruption and transparency as far as the eye can see. 

We were 15th in terms of cultural influence, largely because of a perfect score for happiness and a solid ranking for modernity. The survey also ranked New Zealand highly for adventure (although, worryingly, we were sorely lacking any sexy adventure). 

New Zealand was also right up there when it came to other measures like best country to retire, best country to travel alone, best country for raising kids, best country for women and best country for green living. 

Not quite as positive was the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s study on the net impact on global innovation per capita, which ranked New Zealand 28th in the world. 

Earlier studies have ranked country’s innovativeness based on capabilities or outcomes, but this one claimed to be the first to rank the impact of countries’ policies on the global innovation system. It examined 14 factors that not only support domestic innovation but had positive spillover effects globally, including supportive tax systems and investment in R&D and human capital, and 13 factors that had negative spillover effects, including forced localisation and weak intellectual property protection.

New Zealand’s policies were found to be 30th best in their positive contribution to the global innovation ecosystem and the 13th least damaging. 

As an island nation, we’re also well-accustomed to venturing elsewhere to cut swathes/sow wild oats/do business. And it turns out our reputation and our regulations are a good thing for travel, with New Zealand ranked as having the 7thmost powerful passport in the world by London-based citizenship and planning firm Henley and Partners. New Zealanders can travel to 171 countries without a visa, not far off the top nation, Germany, whose residents can visit 177 countries visa-free. 

The Martin Prosperity Institute looked specifically at global creativity and placed New Zealand third, just behind Australia and the United States respectively, and ahead of Canada, Denmark and Finland. New Zealand moved up from sixth to third place this year. 

The study based its results on the “3Ts” – talent (research and development investment, and patents per capita), technology (share of adults with higher education and workforce in the creative class) and tolerance (treatment of immigrants, racial and ethnic minorities, gays and lesbians). It said that in the knowledge economy, where consumption and production are based on intellectual capital, the 3Ts and overall creativity were linked closely to economic and social development. 

Speaking of innovation, global commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle released its third annual City Momentum Index (CMI) report in February and placed Auckland third. This marked its first time in the top 20. 

The report said: “Despite the impact of slowing commodity prices which have affected many cities in the region, robust education and research systems and dynamic technology sectors are allowing these cities (Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney) to outperform.”

While Auckland’s high ranking comes primarily as a result of the ongoing redevelopment of the Wynyard Quarter and City Rail Link, the report also noted Auckland's maintenance and promotion of a “healthy innovation ecosystem [that’s] driving significant demand for new commercial real estate”, estimating that Auckland is likely to experience the most growth in office rentals of any city in the CMI in 2016. Good news for the economy, but bad news for first office buyers hoping to get on the ladder. 

Auckland also received another third placing in a study from recruitment consultancy Mercer around quality of life. The annual report is based on factors such as culture and environment, political stability, safety, infrastructure and ease of doing business. And it was the fourth time Auckland had been ranked third in the survey. Further south, Wellington was ranked 12th. Further north, Vienna maintained its position atop the leaderboard for the seventh time. 

The 2016 Idealog '-ability' Index

Unfortunately, New Zealand declined on the global sleepability index after the record temperatures over summer. But, on the plus side, we rocketed up the global swimmability index.