The future of local government was discussed at a public meeting with the Wellington Region Local Government Review Panel in Carterton on Thursday.
About 70 people turned out to the Carterton Events Centre, including residents from Eketahuna and Greytown, district and regional councillors and mayors.
The independent panel was appointed by Greater Wellington Regional Council and Porirua City Council to investigate the options for the future make-up of local government.
Panel members include chairman Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Sue Driver, Sir Wira Gardiner and Bryan Jackson, who was not present.
"We came here to talk to whoever wants to engage in a dialogue with us and we want to hear what your needs are," Sir Geoffrey said.
The possible change to local government was being driven by three things: the local government amendment bill, the financial pressures on the economy and the re-structure of Auckland's governance.
Questions asked by the public included how capital debt would be affected and whether rural representation would be lost in a bigger council. Ms Driver said that was one of the conundrums faced in writing the issues paper.
"We're not sure if Wairarapa feels Wairarapa's part of the Wellington region and Wairarapa's not sure if Wellington feels Wairarapa is part of the Wellington region," Ms Driver said.
Some members of the public mentioned the value of community boards and asked if they would have a role in future and if regional council representation could ever be increased.
Sir Wira emphasised the panel's role in the future make-up of local government: "We're prepared to talk to anybody who wants to have a conversation."