In the opening shots of the first series of the Scandi noir TV series The Bridge, a body is found cut in half at the waist in the middle of the Oresund Bridge which connects Copenhagen with Malmo — placed precisely on the border between Denmark and Sweden.
The body turned out to be two halves belonging to two separate women — a female Swedish politician and a Danish prostitute. A serial murderer is on the loose and two detectives — the honest but tactless Swede Saga Noren and more sensitive Dane Martin Rohde — must find the killer.
I couldn't help reflecting on the national characteristics of Swedes and Danes, as finely drawn in this jointly financed and created series, when crossing the Oresund Bridge recently to Malmo to find out more about the Greater Copenhagen initiative which has created a region of 4.3 million inhabitants off the back of this impressive infrastructure.
In Malmo, I witnessed a cuttingly forthright Swedish politician contradict a Danish diplomat on strategic issues. But irrespective of these very human niggles, the Swedes and Danes have put aside centuries of differences to build modern infrastructure which is giving life to what is now an "international city/region".
New Zealand can't easily follow suit: we don't share a border with other nations. But the fundamental concept has legs.
For instance, if New Zealand developed some strategic nous it could marshall private investment in first-class infrastructure (fast trains, more express ways and tunnels and a new port) to link Auckland with Tauranga and Hamilton and also through to Whangārei to create a city/region which would be an internationally competitive magnet for business investment and development.
Much international competition is between cities rather than countries. It is arguable that a city region linked by modern transport would allow New Zealand to grow and become a magnet for talented younger people to stay or come and commute to the city centre, and for affordable housing to be built in cost competitive areas other than the Auckland isthmus.
As I disclosed this week, the Prime Minister's Business Advisory Council has warned Jacinda Ardern that New Zealand has an "infrastructure crisis". The council has advocated the development of an infrastructure master plan.
That plan will fall within the scope of the new Infrastructure Commission which will advise on infrastructure priorities — subject to political calls such as that by Transport Minister Phil Twyford, who this week prematurely nixed the council's call for 12 shelved roading projects to be reinstated.
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Twyford's decision to rule out the Business Advisory Council call without broader discussion on why businesses believe more road projects are necessary is indicative of the frictions which lie in front of an Infrastructure Commission endeavouring to come up with independent advice in an environment where the political parties in Government are already wedded to initiatives for which they claim an electoral mandate.
A fundamental paradigm shift is needed to scope out what New Zealand is trying to achieve through its infrastructure investment.
I had gone to Denmark with the New Zealand Initiative business think tank to understand more about this small nation's economic successes and see whether there were any strategies that could be deployed here to this nation's benefit.
In Copenhagen, where we were based, much was made of the Danish concept of "hygge", loosely translated as the "cosiness" or "wellbeing" that Danes appreciate — to the point where they happily stump up huge taxes by international standards to maintain free services and more than half the Danish economy is dominated by government.
This will not fly in New Zealand, which has a much more individualistic society than that of Scandinavia.
But the Greater Copenhagen concept does resonate.
Greater Copenhagen aims to be the leading metropolis in Northern Europe through attracting and retaining international investments, companies, tourism and talent.
The mayors and regional chairpersons of Eastern Denmark and Southern Sweden lead a Greater Copenhagen Collaboration to promote regional collaboration and economic growth.
The 85 municipalities in Greater Copenhagen are home to 4.3 million inhabitants and form Scandinavia's largest recruitment base of highly-skilled employees. There are world-class research facilities and a creative business environment with access to the markets of two countries.
As for the Oresund Bridge, it is breath-taking.
Copenhagen and Malmo are only 30km apart. Travel between the two cities was by ferry across the Oresund Strait until 2000 when the Oresund Bridge and Tunnel opened.
The Oresund Bridge is still the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe. At a cost of €2.6 billion, the project was delivered without any taxpayer funding. The bridge is user-financed and the cost will be repaid by 2037.
We may not want their tax rates, but some of that Danish and Swedish vision could usefully be imported here.
• Fran O'Sullivan joined the New Zealand Initiative's Discover Denmark delegation at her expense. Air New Zealand provided flight assistance for the Asian leg.