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Three waters working group recommendations don't go far enough

Thursday March 10, 2022.

Mayor Rehette Stoltz is still very concerned with what the Government is proposing with the Three Waters Reforms, particularly around losing a local voice on how our three waters are managed.

“The recommendations by the Local Government New Zealand Working Group, made up of mayors and iwi representatives, still don’t address all of our local concerns."

“Their recommendations for communities to become shareholders of the new water entities with one share per 50,000 people means with our current population of just under 50,000 Tairāwhiti may likely get just one share in the new entity”.

“While there are some recommended changes to the representative model like sub-regional representative groups, it is still very difficult to see how Tairāwhiti needs will be prioritised and delivered to the level we desire.”

The Working Group spent more than three months consulting on the contentious reforms of the country’s three waters services – drinking, waste and stormwater. Some of the recommendations include establishing tighter accountability for each Water Services Entity Board to the community through new and stronger mechanisms, introducing sub-regional committees designed to ensure local voices are considered and recognising Te Mana o te Wai (the health and wellbeing of water and the wider environment) as an underlying principle

Mayor Stoltz says it’s important to fully understand the potential implications of the recommendations for our region and once staff have had time to analyse them we will be able to determine whether we will back them or not.

“Since the Minister announced the reform proposals in mid-2021, Council has been clear in its messages to the Government, disagreeing with the options proposed and the information upon which the proposal was built.

“We need to make sure our public is informed about these changes and I’m concerned that there is a risk the community may get fatigued by the level of information that is coming through, not only in regards to Three Waters, but also the RMA Reforms and the Future for Local Government Reform.

Minister Mahuta is currently considering the group’s recommendations.