The region’s four mayors have issued a joint media release on water service reform, saying in 705 words what BayBuzz can reduce to 63:

  1. We’re happy to take $91m from Government to progress our thinking on how HB’s management of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater should proceed.

2. Although our councils haven’t done a spectacular job at this in the past, none of us are convinced that Government’s plan to consolidate (and pay for) these responsibilities will improve service delivery.

3. But we’ll ponder the matter collectively. Stay tuned.

We’re not sure what the news is in a promise to “collaborate on evaluation”, but it probably took a heap of communications planning and consulting help to make sure each mayor got a quote in the press release. Thank god we have four councils working on this!

So, in case you want to know how each mayor voiced the same apprehension about giving up a big chunk of turf, the full release is pasted below.

Councils continue to collaborate on evaluation of Government’s three waters reform proposal

Wairoa District Council, Napier City Council, Hastings District Council and Central Hawke’s Bay District Council have decided to work together to review the analysis and modelling behind Government’s proposal to transfer delivery of drinking, waste and storm water services (three waters) from local councils to four multi-regional entities. 

As part of its reforms of three waters service delivery, Government has proposed the transfer of local councils’ three waters assets and services to four multi-regional entities across the country and last week announced a comprehensive support package intended to ensure no council or community would be worse off following the transition to the new system.  

Under the proposal, responsibility for Hawke’s Bay’s three waters services would transfer to a regional entity comprising 21 councils from the East Coast of the North Island, the top of the South Island and the Chatham Islands. Each council would be allocated transitional funding support on the basis of a nationally consistent formula that takes into account population, relative deprivation and land area.  

Hawke’s Bay’s four councils would be allocated funding support as follows: 

Central Hawke’s Bay        $11,339,488 

Hastings                            $34,885,508 

Napier                               $25,823,785 

Wairoa                              $18,624,910 

Councils have been asked to provide feedback to Government on the impact of what’s proposed and the support package on offer, and to put forward any questions that remain unanswered.   

Alex Walker, Mayor of Central Hawke’s Bay says the region’s councils all agree that to meet the requirements of new water regulations, change is required in how water infrastructure and services are funded and delivered.  

“Last year we released the report of our own independent review of the future costs three waters service delivery for Hawke’s Bay. We knew government was looking at reform and that’s why we worked together to assess the options for a regional approach to three waters service delivery that would achieve affordability and sustainability for all of Hawke’s Bay’s communities.”  

“Now that Government has done its own analysis and proposed just one option, we think it is important we work together to review how their modelling stacks up against our own and whether or not what’s proposed would deliver on our regional objectives.” she says.   

Kirsten Wise, Mayor of Napier says that going into the regional review of future service delivery options back in late 2018, the five councils of Hawke’s Bay put considerable thought into the criteria for any ‘best imaginable’ regional solution.  

“We all agreed that affordability, resilience, building enduring capability and capacity and a meaningful role for Māori, were critical to any alternative to the status quo for our communities. That remains the case today and together we will need to be convinced the model that Government is proposing will deliver those outcomes.”  

“Our community needs to be at the core of this decision so we must ensure we have the opportunity to consult fully on the options, and under any model have representation and a strong voice on a water entity’s governing board”. 

Mayor of Wairoa Craig Little says: “There is so much at stake for our communities in the decisions that lie ahead. That’s why we need to be convinced that the model Government is proposing will deliver what our communities deserve. Our community is telling us they do not want to lose ownership of their assets. Wairoa District Council is looking at all options including status quo, Hawke’s Bay working together and the Government’s Reform proposal.” 

Sandra Hazlehurst, Hastings District Mayor says the Government has given councils eight weeks to review the proposal, the modelling behind it and the support package on offer from Government.  

“It makes absolute sense for us to work through that process together as a region so we can compare Government’s assumptions and modelling against the considerable analysis and wider perspectives that went into our own detailed review. Our council has invested $100M in safe drinking water – careful consideration must be given to the ownership of these rate payer funded assets. That is what our community expects of us. Any decision on changes to the service delivery and ownership of three waters assets for our community will be made by our community.”  

Details of the Government’s Three Waters Reforms are available at www.dia.govt.nz/Three-Waters-Reform-Programme and Hawke’s Bay’s Three Waters Review at www.hb3waters.nz 

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6 Comments

  1. Absolutely agree that the rate payers and councils, current & past, have invested a lot in their water infrastructure and we all agree we need to be always ensuring the safe delivery of our water services to the HB community, it is not proven that Central Govt could or would do this any better. I say, “lets be careful to protect OUR assets and not give them away to anyone for a poultry sum”. Once we relinquish ownership it will be impossible to revert. We can do this!

  2. It is not proposed that assets be “given away”. They will remain in public ownership – simply a different public entity. The rule “no good deed goes unpunished” will apply. Those authorities which have done a good job will subsidize those that did not or were unable to do the right thing. Uniform high standards of water quality are unlikely with continuation of the existing system.

  3. Can you please tell me how any changes to the service delivery and ownership of three waters assets for our community will be made by our community? What is the plan to inform the community and offer a people friendly platform so their voice can be heard?

    1. At the moment, I’m not aware that our local councils have made any specific plans for public consultation on 3 Waters. Frankly, our mayors and their staffs are still figuring out what stance they want to take — are they going with the Govt plan (and $$) or not? And then, do they present a specific approach to their constituencies, or ask for feedback on 2-3 options. Stay tuned, we’re following the issue closely.

  4. So the proposal is that we’ll give up 1/3 of council assetts without compensation to an unelected authority which will control the 3 waters
    In return we’ll get a sum of money funded by borrowing against the assetts weve paid for and given away for nothing. and that loan will have to be repaid by us in the cost of the water!!!!
    We need a binding ratepayers referendum on this. we paid for the assetts. We have a right to say whether they should be given away

  5. Please correct me if I am wrong. Once the Govt take over the 3 waters and pay a fraction of its value to local councils they give 50% to Maori. Based on population Maori comprise 18% of the population yet they get 50% is this racist? I am sure it would be racist if we gave 82% to pakeha? A referendum is the only way this can proceed.

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