Have you noticed the deafening silence on 3 Waters from HB political ‘leaders’ lately?

In case you haven’t noticed, Queenstown, a major international tourist gateway, to say nothing of ‘home’ to its 40,000 local residents, has been under a ‘boil water’ regime. That’s a real image builder.

Why? Because the water is a public health hazard – bacterial infection. Why? Because the local council didn’t have (or allocate) the money to take proper care.

Sound familiar Havelock North?

In case you haven’t noticed, Auckland has been spewing sewage into its Bay for days now, and will continue to do so.

Why? Pipes bursting – insufficient funds to upgrade decrepit water infrastructure.

As a result, Aucklanders have been warned that rates may rise by 13% and water bills by 20% next year. That follows a 7.7% increase this year. Leading Mayor Wayne Brown to lash National’s plan to scrap Labour’s 3 Waters reforms because National has given no accounting as to how it will ‘assist’ local governments to bear the staggering cost of 3 Waters infrastructure upgrade.

The price tag for 1st World local water infrastructure is $185 billion over 30 years.

Don’t worry, we’ll help out, says National vaguely. Take that to the bank … or hospital.

Meantime, CHB District Council, with a previous history of neglect and bad decision-making about its water infrastructure, just received $2.5 million from the Government to help protect the water supply of around 3,200 people in Waipawa and Otāne. Said CHB Mayor Alex Walker:

“Delivering everything we are tasked with is becoming an increasingly unsustainable and unrealistic challenge for our ratepayers to fund which means making some difficult decisions about when and how we deliver key projects. We are tasked with servicing the debt Council already holds, and spreading additional spend over time, to lessen the burden on a single generation.

“Funding such as this is a huge step in the right direction – it gives us the ability to deliver a reliable and safe drinking water supply to the communities of Waipawa and Otāne.  We are so thankful for a partnership which allows us to secure access to a vital water source.”

You better cash that cheque quickly Mayor Alex!

If the polls are accurate, New Zealanders are facing three years of core service cutbacks … and our local councils are facing balance sheet disaster.

Which will ultimately hit you, dear reader/ratepayer.

Not to worry, though, National is going to cure this and all our ills, and apparently it won’t cost a dime … in fact, we’ll get tax relief.

Yet have you heard a single Hawke’s Bay mayor or local elected ‘leader’ raise their voice against National’s infrastructure idiocy? Even grateful Mayor Alex?

But you can be sure that on Monday October 16 we’ll get a joint media release from our councils, joined by MPs Wedd and Nimon at the photo opp, re-assuring us that they will be “totally united” and “vigorously advocating”, no doubt even hiring consultants to help out, to see that HB’s water infrastructure gets whatever crumbs might be available.

It’s not too soon to start boiling your water.


Join the Conversation


  1. Tom, insufficient funding or poor local investment as a result of poor planning? Too many feel good project for instance? Those rediculous totem poles along our “new” highways that look more scandanavian than indigenous?¥8 perhaps?

  2. I love our cycleways, our art installations and all the wonderful beautification projects however, shouldn’t we actually prioritise our infrastructure? Our water, our hospitals, our roads?

  3. Tom, Wayne Brown doesn’t support Three Waters, as prescribed. Yes, central government likely will fund much infrastructure upgrades, and/or facilitate PPPs. Certainly, Liebour achieved nothing in this regard, over six years – though wasted millions $.

  4. You have mentioned the Waipawa/Otane water supply. They can think themselves lucky to at least have drinkable water. The Waipukurau water is virtually undrinkable “swamp” water . Even boiling it doesn’t eliminate the smell or taste of it. Check with the supermarkets on how much bottled water they sell because the locals won’t drink the tap water.

  5. You raise a very valid but frightening issue Tom Belford. Napier City Council alone needs to spend in excess of $800 million on the 3 waters that the city must have to be safe from the public health bombs such as those widely varying crises that have landed in recent years on Havelock North, Auckland, Tairawhiti, Wellington, Hawkes Bay and in particular Awatoto. Where, I wonder will Napier City Council be able to get that funding without the government backing that Labour’s 3 Waters legislation addressed.

  6. Great questions you raised, Tom. But, as usual, most people (read majority of voters) don’t look further than the end of their noses (or should that be wallets?) and swallow the questionable tax lollies the Nats are throwing out by the handful. As French philosopher,Joseph de Maistre, is credited with first saying, “We get the government we deserve”. Instead of retaining tax income and coming up with a credible alternative to 3 Waters, all we get is the usual mudslinging and platitudes. My prediction is that, if National/Act/NZ First do gain power at this election, it will be a one-term government, as Luxon’s description of a Labour/Greens/TPM government being “a coalition of chaos” will come back to bite the Nats in the posterior big time. How desperately we need some honest and sensible politicians to rescue us from the current clowns in this circus…

    1. Hey Dan, let’s keep this bunch of incompetent liars in power to keep distroying this once gods zone country which they have done over the last 6 years, or do we kick them out ?? God help NZ if they have another 3 years, we will become another South Africa, we are well on our way to that now.

  7. Hastings District Council have got a billion dollar bill for the new water treatment. They will not be able to treat enough water to give us all drinking water.
    UV treating bulk water cannot work as UV light is diffracted while passing through the first surface layer of water. Other places have tried this and it only partially works. There are much better and more effective treatment options available.

  8. liebour governments 3 waters will fix it , yea right. Just like our health system almost bankrupt, our childrens eduction one of the worst in the developed world, our roads falling apart, crime the worst in New Zealand history, cost of living gone through the roof, povity is the worst it has ever been, homelessness more people living in hotels, cars etc than ever before, and it goes on and on, all of this has been achieved in less than 6 years !!!! thanks LIEBOUR AND GOOD RIDDANCE after the 14 October.

  9. As economics journalist Thomas Coughlan pointed out two years central govts in many EU countries pay more than twice what ours pays to councils to cover infrastructure on grounds that its a national responsibility, most councils can’t raise rates more than 5-7%, & central govts can raise money more cheaply, use bonds for the purpose. Time to stop blaming councils – & devolve without excessive bureaucracy. Thanks for reminder, Mr Belford.

  10. Suspicious how such an event comes up when Government pushing to steal the assets of local councils, use them to raise debt and not give the people control. No to three waters. Havelock North is not what it seems.

    1. My view is that most HB Councils’ water infrastructure are no longer assets, they’re liabilities. Centralised approaches to such issues, including health, are more efficient, equitable and cost effective. I worked under DHB, Centralised, then DHB systems again and most health workers noted the centralised system was the best in all these areas.

  11. Amazing how people can be convinced how essential infrastructure can be provided without the beneficiaries paying for it. Who do they think will pay? Do they actually think that safe drinking water and water discharges that do not damage the environment can be provided at no cost?

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