Another point that Graeme could have made is that New Zealand seems to have the weakest local government in the OECD, with no federal states either. If you look at the OECD dataset called "government at a glance" you will find NZ at the extreme end of a bar graph of states ranked by fiscal centralisation, at 90% central government control of all public spending. The next most centralised, in the 2009 series, are the UK, Ireland and Norway on 70%. This is often rationalised on the grounds that our population is small (though comparable to Ireland and Norway) but this ignores geography and well-established communities of interest, as indicated by the survival in popular memory of the provinces abolished on 1 Jan 1877 bar their commemorative days (Taranaki, Hawkes Bay, etc). This has real consequences, as evidenced by the central veto of Dove-Myer Robinson's rapid rail scheme in Auckland after he managed to get support for it from 22 out of 26 local government bodies in Auckland (see John T Edgar, URBAN LEGEND: SIR DOVE-MYER ROBINSON, 2012). Admittedly this happened under a three year term system, but the point is that under a four-year term system, things might be even worse. Anyhow, think about that the next time you are stuck in Auckland traffic.