Policy Projects

Foresight NZ

Exploring New Zealand’s probable and possible futures

ForesightNZ is a McGuinness Institute policy project that aims to explore New Zealand’s probable, possible and preferred futures.

Our intention is to build public policy capability in New Zealand by encouraging long-term, agile thinking around our uncertain future. Initiated in 2008, ForesightNZ is about conceptualising the broad range of possible futures for New Zealand through up-to-date tools and conceptual approaches used in the field of futures studies. Foresight tools often applied by the Institute include the Cone of Plausibility, scenario development and backcasting.

Latest publication

Foresight tools booklet

Foresight tools help us brainstorm ideas about the future so we are better prepared for the opportunities and challenges that may arise. It provides the ability to forward engage, interacting early before issues become difficult to manage.

This booklet – the first of three in the series – outlines 20 foresight tools to throw into the mix, while you walk forward into the future.

Current work


In times of uncertainty it can be difficult to imagine what might happen in the future. Scenarios can be used as a tool for visualising or simulating possible future outcomes.

In the Institute’s view, there are many ways to produce scenarios. Some key questions are: 

  • What is the problem/area you are trying to scope? 
  • What type of futures are you trying to explore – probable, plausible, possible, and/or preposterous futures? The type of scenarios that are developed depends upon the nature of the problem, and the subject area or domain that is being explored. 

Across all data, observations indicate that the scenario landscape (both at a national and local level) is fragmented, complex and inconsistent. The Institute is currently undergoing research to learn more about the current state of domestic scenario development and has developed a list of scenario documents in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Recent initiatives

Revisiting Tomorrow: Navigating with Foresight

How to begin the hugely complex task of thinking about the future? – Margaret Hunn, Commission for the Future, 1981

On 30 October 2019, McGuinness Institute hosted a panel discussion between Rt Hon Jim Bolger and former members of the Commission for the Future and the New Zealand Planning Council, followed by reflections from several future thinkers on how we might embed foresight into public policy in 2020 and beyond. Learn more about the event and speakers here. Watch the recorded event here.

Assorted publications

See a selection of our latest research and publications related to ForesightNZ below.

Revisiting Tomorrow Newspaper

Āpōpō Journal

ForesightNZ Playing Cards

Report 6: Four Possible Futures for New Zealand in 2058