Three major elements of modern stratigraphy are summarised and discussed, namely chrcnostratigraphy, biostrdtigraphy and lithostratigraphy. Particular attention is directed to the relationship between chronological and chronostratigraphic units. Definition of the Standard Stratigraphic Scale in modern terms should place the emphasis on the flow of timc and not on the units that happen to have been historically convenient subdivisions of that flow. Therefore the ‘golden-peg’ or ‘boundary-stratotype’ methodology is favoured, and the chronostratigraphic category claimed to be redundant. The history of the New Zealand local ‘stage’ scheme is reviewed. In New Zealand, local chronostratigraphies will serve no useful purpose in the future, if indeed they do so now, but they could be usefully reformulated in bicstratigraphic terms, using the Oppelzone as their basic category.