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New Zealand's first MMP and last first-past-the-post prime minister says New Zealanders will never again know on election night who they have elected.

Jim Bolger never supported MMP.

"I tried to get people to understand beforehand that we had given up forever the thought that we would know who the government was on election night.

"Governments were not selected by the voters directly, they were in fact brought together, cobbled together some would say ... by the leadership of the parties rather than the voters," he said from Turkey, where he is on holiday.

Now the chairman of New Zealand Post, he said the major plus of MMP was that a wider cross-section of the public were represented, but that had also brought a weakness.

"MMP in operation is exactly as I said it would be, and that is that the smaller parties get far greater authority in the Parliament than their voting base in the community would naturally support," he said.

"The current Prime Minister Helen [Clark] has got to operate with one, or two, coalition parties and two that give support from time to time. At no time does she have a permanent majority, so clearly small parties can negotiate their agreement for support."

That meant difficulty in passing legislation.

Mr Bolger said "that is the weakness of MMP" and limited a government's ability to take major decisions.

"They are often politically unpopular - the big reforms in New Zealand that set up today's New Zealand, of the late 80s, early 90s, were in many ways unpopular with the general public but there's nobody who would dispute that they have set up the fact that we've had now about 15 or 20 years of almost continuous growth."

Mr Bolger was in no doubt it was the right decision in 1996 for National to go into government with NZ First.

"Absolutely. In my view without question. The fact that I wasn't able to carry through the three years was a decision above [my control].

"But there was no particular reason in my judgment, and there wasn't at the time I left government, that that coalition wouldn't have lasted a full three years.

"That didn't happen, but there were different personalities came into play."

Mr Bolger said as negotiations took time, New Zealanders became increasingly keen for a government.

"There was no doubt we were at the end of tolerance in the community before the Government was formed."

There were good and bad things about any system of election.

"It's really which imperfect system a society prefers," he said.

"You get more representative Parliament with proportional representation, you get more decisive government with first past the post."

He had no regrets over the change or his last term in government, though he does wonder whether there should have been a bigger mandate for bringing in MMP.

"I have only one question mark in my mind over what we did, and I have reflected since, and that is whether or not a bare 50 per cent majority was sufficient to make a constitutional change of this magnitude."

- NZPA