Auckland is causing one of its former residents trouble, due to its excessive influence. So an alliance of the mayors of the South Island is to be formed to counter Auckland's influence.
For a couple of years I've found it bizarre that Auckland has 18 MPs, and one mayor. Only electorate MPs, no doubt there are List MPs that are from Auckland too. As I see it, local government in Auckland is too big (and thereby undemocratic). Contrast that to the South Island where there are 16 electorate MPs and 23 mayors. That's a whole lot more people to exert their influence on the government than Auckland has. But I don't accept that it's solely down to population.
My guess is that the difference comes back to some more basic politics.
South Island electorates are safer than Auckland electorates. So the MPs can happily ignore their constituents, safe in the knowledge that they will be re-elected.
Other countries have governance at both national and state level, with the states giving the national government power. Voters tend to let the two operate with a level of tension, by electing governments from opposing parties at the state level. Recent Australian history has had state Labor governments (until they started selling assets) and a Conservative/Liberal national government. NZ is unusual in that the powers granted to the closest thing we have to state government devolves from central government. Regional and local government is not as overtly party based and the two levels of government often are political bedfellows, which results in lower levels of tension and a reduced willingness of MPs to listen to their constituents or their local government representatives.
So there are two solutions for the South Island. Short term, vote against the incumbent, reduce their majority and get them listening. Long term, the trends towards efficiency as the sole measure of good government needs to be broadened and local government reformed, to make it more local.
A talk-fest as an excuse to collect Airpoints won't achieve much.
As a footnote, Auckland will not always be the biggest city in NZ. Building a city on an active volcanic field is outright dumb, it's a disaster waiting to happen.
Split Enz - See Ya Round, 1984