The Government’s plan to rationalise and equitably deliver drinking water, stormwater and water services nationwide is pushing forward, despite stubborn turf protection by some local councils, including ours here in Hawke’s Bay.

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) reiterated guidance given to local councils in December that legislation effecting the reforms would indeed be introduced in mid-2022. Negotiations with local government reps have led to some simplification and strengthening of local representation in governance of the new structure.

And this week the Three Waters National Transition Unit Board was appointed to oversee implementation of the anticipated new structure and services.

DIA announced:

“From 1 July 2024, four new water services entities will deliver drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services to people across New Zealand. In preparation, the National Transition Unit will create four local establishment entities, to support and drive the transition in their areas.

“The Board will … ensure the Unit is able to deliver the new system in a consistent and coordinated manner across the country, including through the establishment of the new entities and the efficient transfer of assets to them.”

Members of the Board are:

Sir Brian Roche (chair) has direct experience over many years in the establishment and operation of organisations. He currently chairs Waka Kotahi NZTA and the COVID-19 Independent Continuous Review, Improvement and Advice Group.

John Duncan is a Deputy Chair of Kāinga Ora and the Public Trust, and an advisor to Auckland City Council on funding, risk management, and balance sheet and capital issues.

Fiona Mules is currently an independent director of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Lyttelton Port Company and Rural Livestock. 

Rukumoana Schaafhausen (Ngati Haua) is a lawyer currently serving across a number of Iwi, community, private and public organisations in governance roles including Contact Energy, AgResearch, Miro Berries, Te Waharoa Investments, Tindall Foundation and The Princes Trust.

Richard Wagstaff is the President of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU).

Peter Winder is a former Chief Executive of Auckland Regional Council and Local Government New Zealand.

The gross failure of Hawke’s Bay’s water systems to meet modern standards lies directly on the doorstep of our local councils. Their current handwringing and apologies for past neglect notwithstanding, the problems have become too big to be entrusted to them.


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  1. Can’t really argue the last sentence in this article.
    Wonder how 3Waters would effect the demand for a new Ruataniwha Dam?

  2. Excuse me? The utter audacious arrogance of our current government. It is our water and we did not ask for it to be ‘reformed’ via a gross asset strip right under our tax paying noses A poll Recently conducted by David Farrar’s Curia Research for the NZ Taxpayers’ Union of 1000 eligible voters contacted by mobile and landline telephones. Maximum margin of error is 3.1 per cent. in October shows a majority of New Zealand oppose the reforms, 56 per cent to 19 per cent. And that is across every political party, age group and region. ACT and National voters are most opposed but Labour voters are against it 39 per cent to 28 per cent, and Greens are too – 37 per cent to 31 per cent. Is consultation really too much to ask? Apparently so as this government continues to make more and more fertile ground for ‘conspiracy theories’. I just hope we don’t have to spend too much more of our money undoing their various machinations, 3 waters being just one.

  3. I’m strongly against this being taken away from the local councils.What is the cost going to be to each household ?

  4. The Puttins of our Govt are alive and well.Go back to your behive and sort out your own problems.(Welly Protesters for one)Dictatorship alive and well in NZ

  5. The reason for 3waters reform is the inability in most cases of local councils to do the job
    Instead what we see is countless amounts of money and time being spent on feel good and cosmetic projects
    Napier C C is classic example of a council that fits this description
    In CHB this has led to infrastructure failings of all 3 waters and a prospective repair bill that would blow peoples rates out of the water
    If the councils won’t fix the problems who will if not Central Government
    As long as our 3 waters can not be privatised I don’t think there are many other choices

    1. Tom I look forward to reading your analysis of the 3 Waters Working Group and the 3 mayors’ responses.
      My opinion is that our councils have neglected the infrastructure in favour of more visible ‘love’ projects at the expense of our waterways. How can small regional populations possibly fund the necessary infrastructure restoration projects? And given it is central government is funding the restorations the ownership of the assets is academic – they are not going anywhere they’ll just be working as they should here in our own district.
      It’s a matter of who you believe can fund and do the job well. Historical neglect doesn’t instilled confidence

  6. This is going to be another very costly failure
    1/ Look at who has been appointed to set it up nearly all total yes persons for labour all feeding out of the public trough
    2/ Is going to cost ratepayers twice maybe 4 times as much for water when they have employed 10 times as much staff as needed to run it
    3/ If you think it’s hard to get your council to do something now wait till you try get something sorted under this setup. No one will be accountable, you will not be able to speak to anyone who can make decisions
    4/ Ratepayers whose councils have got good infrastructure will have your rates siphoned to other areas
    5/ I agree with Maori representation but not 50% say as that is not representative of population

  7. Why on earth would anyone think that a local problem is best solved by abstracting the management and stewardship of it to a central government? Local issues should be solved locally as much as possible, having some centralised expertise that can give guidance to the regions would be a better idea, that way the people that have a stake in the success of the project are still accountable for it.
    Moving the management away to a bureaucracy means nobody will be accountable and the buck will be passed from place to place, projects will fail and people will be reshuffled, Same old Big Government story.

    As for giving 50% of the representation to a population based on race is beyond belief to me, but not for this government who think racism is deplorable but bases all it’s policy based on the colour of everyone’s skin.

  8. Please don’t move forward with this total theft project by iwi…very clear who’s driving this.
    The ratepayer own these assets.. keep your greedy hands off them.

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