New Zealand student and general public samples reported their perception of changes in spending and quality in eight areas of government spending between 2002 and 2007. The actual considerable shift in spending towards education, health and cultural goods was not perceived. They perceived some improvement in quality of areas that had received increased spending. Respondents who had recently used health services reported both a greater increase in spending and a greater quality increase in health services than non-users. Overall, the results suggest but by no means prove that the increased spending has produced little noticeable public benefit.