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Abstract: Resilience can be seen as a measure of how well systems return to equilibrium after a shock, how well they withstand on-going strains, and/or how a system might shift to a new set of conditions. Objectives could be to protect infrastructure and governance systems, or ecosystems, or both. The growing sophistication of resilience assessment could help cities identify both desired and unwanted outcomes. However, resilience is variably and often narrowly defined in national and local strategic or policy documents. This paper uses the example of New Zealand’s national transport funding policy and allocation processes to demonstrate how an unreflective use of the term resilience results in lost opportunities to pursue a low carbon future, and works against the concept of resilience itself. Resilience does not guarantee optimal outcomes. But if national and local governments increasingly use the term, they should be required to demonstrate an understanding of the implications of its application.