Despite a torrent of wailing and gnashing of teeth from parts of NZ local government, including the four mayors of Hawke’s Bay, the much-awaited ‘3 Waters’ reform legislation was introduced to Parliament on Thursday by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

The Government’s announcement emphasised: “The new water services entities will ensure all New Zealanders get the high-quality water services they deserve, no matter whether they live in our biggest cities or heartland provincial communities.

“It will also ensure public ownership is a bottom line for this Government, and the Bill contains strong protections against privatisation that will ensure this essential infrastructure is safeguarded for future generations.

“The Bill also incorporates the recommendations of the Working Group on Representation, Governance and Accountability. It secures community ownership of the water entities, protects against privatisation, and ensures a stronger community voice in the new entities.

“It ensures the collective ownership of the entities by local government on behalf of their communities through a shareholding allocated on the basis of population, as recommended by the Working Group.”

The bill has been welcomed by both Local Government NZ and Water NZ (the industry body for the three waters sector) and will be subject to a full select committee process where further public submissions will be considered.

No doubt our region’s mayors will commission yet another flurry of media releases and a submission denouncing the plan.

However unless you read BayBuzz, you would not likely know that much cooler heads in NZ local government officialdom have worked with the Government on these reforms and support them.

Unlike our local HB councils, who insist – contrary to all historic evidence of their past neglect and mismanagement – can do better. Two of our councils cannot even remotely afford to try do better.

Here’s a different local official view on the matter BayBuzz reported awhile back …

“Far more credible than our mayors is Brian Hanna, who served nine years as mayor of Waitomo District. He has been independent chair of the Central/Local Government Steering Group charged with advising Government on the proposed reforms. He is also a board member of the new national drinking water regulator, Taumata Arowai.

“Here’s what Hanna recently wrote in Farmers Weekly (4 April 2022):

“What has concerned me has been some of the misinformation that has been fed to communities by a small number of mayors and councillors, when the research shows their communities will benefit from the reforms.

“I do question their motives and whose interests they are representing.”

Amen!

And he notes: “The biggest losers if reform does not proceed are likely to be smaller rural communities in NZ who will face huge, eye watering costs to upgrade infrastructure networks over the foreseeable future.”

Amen again!

It’s hard to fathom why some local ratepayers would prefer to risk drinking unhealthy water, have it flood their homes, or empty it via decrepit water systems into our waterways, and pay more for the privilege … so long as it’s our own councils whose pumps and pipes and treatment plants are failing. Kind of like having cousin Hamish the physio do your brain surgery … just to keep it in the family.

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11 Comments

  1. Every home could harvest there own rain water instead of drinking water polluted with chemicals known to compromise bodily well being

  2. So pleased, we all need reliable, clean, life enhancing water. It’s a precious commodity and if it takes the government to make it happen, so grateful.
    Does this mean the taking of water from our aquifer, by the local water bottling companies will be adjusted, how is it ok for them to remain in business. Crazy. Just saying.

  3. Local Government NZ were bought by the government and as part of the agreement cannot argue against 3 waters
    The mainstream media who access the $ 55000000 public interest funding have to agree to support the principles of the Treaty partnership so they won’t disagree with 3 waters. I have no idea if Bay Buzz has recieved money from that fund but would be interested to know if it has
    The thing all the councils against 3 waters and most of of the polled public object to is having the assets we built up and paid for post 1840 being given to an unelected organization 50% controlled by Iwi interests..
    Given Nanaia Mahutas attitude to perceived conflict of interest when it comes to her family the chances of that organization looking after all ratepayers equally is zero
    The councils have offered alternatives. This government prefers apartheid

  4. Time for ALL councils to do what’s in the best interests of the general publics health and well being. Stop their squandering iratepayers hard earned money on costly, No win wrangling over government legislation. And much less of the politicking…..for protecting their own hip pockets!
    Let’s face up to it. The water infrastructure throughout the Bay has been SHIT for years! Darn right unashamedly neglected!
    So forgetting all the politics, here’s an opportunity to “finally start fixing it”. Read the legislation. We have nothing to lose!

  5. The 3 components of Napier’s water require over $900 million to rectify longstanding deficiencies. Figures presented by consultants to Napier City Council are $284 million for potable water, $348 million for storm water and an estimated $300 million for wastewater (sewage). That is in order to bring the infrastructure up to current requirements. How on earth do opponents of the 3 Waters legislation expect the $400 million budgeted over 10 years in the Long Term Plan to have Napier in a position better than third world status with a burden of massively increased rate increases without the support of government access to the vast capital required to sort out the countries 3 Waters dilemma. As for progress with NCC water improvements, I requested information on wastewater being diverted into the Ahuriri Estuary and why NCC weren’t testing for roof stormwater being put into sewage lines. After 2 years they started testing, they checked 62 houses in Pirimai/Onekawa whose stormwater went east to Awatoto and had nothing to do whatsoever with the criminally dereliction of duty toward the health of Napier’s citizens when NCC open the sewage pipes to the Estuary. In addition to this I ask on behalf of the poor folk in Marewa who are still affected by the floods 18 months ago, What is being done about their situation of access to the stickered homes? What will happen with their insurability the next time they suffer a flood? Will they in fact be able to get insurance after the next inevitable flood? The 3 Waters legislation is the solution to current and future problems with this most vital component of local body obligation to their ratepayers. Maybe an extension to the Bill could lead to Aotearoa New Zealand being able to charge for all of the water that currently crosses our border bound for China on a free and for gratis basis.

    1. I totally agree Eric
      This whole exercise is to fulfill what the Mahutas regard as the crowns obligation to the Iwi elite.
      There are now 2 court cases coming up to find out if that view is correct or the whole co governance scam has been made up as by a small elite group as has been written about by Dr Elizabeth Rata ( Democracy Project June 30 2021 )f tha
      Your point about The Platform’s article is a valid one and an excellent example of the effect of government funding with strings attatched . The only MSM to report the story was The Heralds business section (27 May )
      There is a review coming up of local government by Minister Mahuta which may make this the last non co governance election we get so we’d better make the most of it!

  6. Well said Selwyn. NCC has demonstrated for years that vanity projects take priority over our Essential Services!
    Surely the Overdue time now is to get real, and adopt governments legislation on 3 Waters! Council needs to desist from wasting iratepayers money “fruitlessly objecting” and get on with the actual doings.

  7. I’m confused about the whole issue how do council get away with not using the money that is provided by rate payers for the water we drink an the waste water If some one ran there buisness like our local council we would be broke an go under

  8. The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting change. Drinking water is contaminated in many parts of NZ and surface water continues to decline in quality. The government is explicit that water assets will remain in public ownership. The government is explicit in proposing that drinking water be uniformly safe throughout the country and surface water quality must improve. Why councils and ratepayers oppose these objectives is beyond me. However having control of an asset without acting responsibly based on that ownership ( and in many places that are small municipalities being financially unable to be responsible) I suppose is some sort of an addiction

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