Govt reveals new water reform entities

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone.

Further details have been released of the biggest shake-up of water and sewage infrastructure seen in generations.

They outline four publicly owned entities covering Auckland, Northland, central North Island including Taranaki, east coast North Island, including the top of the South Island, and a fourth covering the remainder of the South Island.

The four entities will be run by boards appointed with input from councils and with expertise in water infrastructure.

They will also include Māori representation.

In a statement, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta says without the reforms, councils would struggle to pay for an estimated $120 billion to $185bn worth of infrastructure needed over the next three decades.

The proposed new entities. Photo: Supplied / Department of Internal Affairs.

Mahuta laid bare the impact years of under-investment have had.

"We have seen the effects of a system in crisis: fatalities from bacteria in drinking water, broken sewer pipes, poorly treated wastewater running into streams and rivers, no-swim notices at the beaches, regular boil-water notices, and lead contamination."

The cost she believes ratepayers would be forced to shoulder was also laid out with an average annual bill ranging from $1900 to $9000 by 2051 if the status quo was retained.

She compared that to a bill of between $800 and $1640 if the changes were adopted.

"Without this change, communities are going to either face very large bills for water services; or infrastructure will continue to degrade with ongoing health and environmental consequences. Both of these outcomes are unacceptable," she says.

The downside for councils was they would no longer be able to include billions of dollars worth of infrastructure paid for over decades as an asset on their books.

While they would technically own the infrastructure, there would be no financial recognition of this ownership and this would limit their ability to borrow against it.


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Not so fast,

Posted on 07-07-2021 09:13 | By R. Bell

LGR, my example which you choose to mis characterize is a classic. The person my brother promoted was NOT promoted because of race but because he was best qualified to be foreman. However his race became the issue for the white workers. Exceptionalism has been tried and failed for generations. You cannot DEMAND to be promoted you earn it by qualification. To my certain knowledge that is not happening. Your fears is therefore unfounded. The current initiatives to improve outcomes for Maori have to be seen in the context of historical marginalisation. None of these initiatives are realistically detrimental to the overall improvement of society in general, nor do they come anywhere near the tragedy of South Africa. The comparison unfair and inaccurate. With a level playing field Maori have shown they are capable of anything.

Fundamentally disagree but that's ok

Posted on 06-07-2021 11:53 | By Kancho

I said taxes are a cross subsidy already so government can help finance where water is local a local owned asset local . I pointed out that Power boards where taken from local consumer ownership from a non profit organisation where profits were invested in improvement to feed profits to shareholders in and outside of NZ . So government reform did this and may again. Yes I don’t like your delivery off point making wrongful assumptions about people or their pedigree and/or knowledge. Socialists can criticise government too if the policy is poor in their estimation, I am one. I side with Professor Rata and am therefore am a democratic nationalist ergo all citizens are equal and so think ethno nationalism by partial ancestry is not the way and is divisive as I suspect most New Zealanders are as we are a modern multinational society. .


Posted on 06-07-2021 10:53 | By

Your example perfectly highlights the potential future for NZ with people demanding special positions and priorities for people who identify themselves by race, creed or colour. I will always take the position of wanting the best and most qualified person for the job to be employed or promoted through the front door. Do you want your surgeon/airline pilot to be employed because of his/her ethnic background or because he/she is extremely capable. Requiring a percentage of government work be done by anyone other than the most qualified people for the task is asking for a drop in national standards just to appear inclusive. I don’t care where my doctor is from because I have the ability to change doctors if I’m unhappy with the treatment I’m receiving. Government appointments don’t allow that.

Strategic assets,

Posted on 05-07-2021 10:04 | By R. Bell

have to be controlled by governments, local or central. The main argument put forward is there is too much government involvement, that is a contradiction in terms. Kancho claims that water is a local resource, yet selfishly states we don’t need to cross subsidize others, water catchments lie outside most cities who benefit from the interaction between town and country. This country was born in partnership with Maori, who were later denied most of the privileges that build societies. Redress has to include the compromise that is currently government policy. Call it percentages if you will, I call it compromise.

Kancho, LGR.

Posted on 05-07-2021 09:30 | By R. Bell

It is not opinion that annoys me but the delivery. Nothing occurs in a vacuum. The water reticulation problems in NZ are real and well documented, the remedy will never be perfect, but change has to occur, underinvestment by local government will never be solved by local government. Kancho, you may not like my delivery but I ask you to study the regular, ongoing disparaging other commenters indulge in. To answer your question LGR, no I have not sat in the room with former executives of South African companies. However I have first hand knowledge of why the new regime in that country has adopted the percentage game. The answer is what existed before. A very close family member was taxed with the job of opening a new factory, he " naively" promoted a black machinist and prompted a walk out of all the whites. Get it !!!!

Amusing tactics again

Posted on 04-07-2021 13:39 | By Kancho

On form R Bell. You love to through aspersions and try to undermine people who have an opinion just because you disagree Exactly what you accuse others of and wrongly too. Of course people will comment on government policies that’s what forums are for. You ignore valid concerns. Power companies essential service were owned by consumers, taken by government reform and now sold on share market with profit sharing with overseas pension funds etc. So it’s possible this can happen to water. It’s a trick used before. also Sold cutting rights with little process involvement for our jobs, bottling water rights , substantial share investment from overseas in businesses, land, farms, infrastructure a favourite cash cow, like airports etc. The point is we ratepayers own assets which produce dividends to council so why should it be taken by legislative theft. A lone voice again swallowing spin


Posted on 04-07-2021 12:21 | By

Debating using only 150 words can never allow for a proper debate Robin. Have you had the opportunity to sit down with former executives from large South African companies to debate the rationale of employing by percentages as this government is currently seeking through government contracts...? The election of councillors, boards of directors or political party MP’s is becoming a case of no longer looking for the best person (if that’s still an acceptable term) for the job, it’s becoming do we have the right percentages. So, are we going to see centralised governance of water controlled by Government appointments made up of the very best brains for the job or more likely, as in parliament, the loudest and most vociferous activists pushing a divisive agenda for political gain, not for the community at large but for one group of people...? Communism plays the long game.

So let's debate the subject.

Posted on 03-07-2021 16:52 | By R. Bell

rather than you taking every opportunity to rubbish the government. Doubt you can do it but here goes. Maori have never claimed that they and only they "own the water" that is a lie. What they say is that they have the right to share in the governance of water, and they do, like it or not. The so called "public domain" is as dis-functional as it has been, the government had no option but to appoint a commission to run Tauranga council, reason, useless councilors more intent on pushing far right agendas than running the city. Best way to cover your backsides, deflect and blame the imaginary "socialists". Donny boy would be proud of you all.


Posted on 03-07-2021 14:37 | By

Why don’t you try taking the rose tinted spectacles off? The “central committee” analogies are demonstrably true. This Government is all about centralisation. DHBs, Water, Central Government installed Council Commissioners to name just a few examples. As for “Maori would never allow foreign ownership”. They invited a foreign power to come and run the country didn’t they? Then we arrive at your most hilarious contradiction - asking others to comment in a productive way without the obvious bias. Outstanding. Why don’t you try and debate a point without the obvious hatred of an opposing opinion?


Posted on 03-07-2021 12:45 | By

Just what makes you believe that Maori owns the water. It either falls from the sky or bubbles up from underground. What is up for debate is how it is moved around the country and how it is treated to become safe for human consumption. We are rapidly moving into an era where commonsense is being overtaken by an " I Want It " mentality. Nobody owns water, however the control over its distribution is something that must be retained in the public domain and not ceded to any group for financial or political gain.

Instead of

Posted on 03-07-2021 09:38 | By R. Bell

constantly confirming how dumb your comments are, why not do some lateral thinking? Why not give some credit to Maori ? who will never allow foreign ownership of water. Instead of constantly whinging about falsehoods like "central committees "why not stop contradicting yourselves, and think outside your selfish box for once. If you do, or can you will realize all your fears are meaningless. Perhaps then you can comment in a productive way without the obvious political bias. On the other hand ??????

Track record

Posted on 03-07-2021 09:14 | By Kancho

This government in talk and spin but no track record of delivery. Seems government want more centralised control in health and now water. Fairly sure councils will be forced by fast legislation into losing the water assets just as government has interfered in local representation. I don’t trust they can deliver on the rhetoric as they haven’t so far. I do see the price of water going up substantially and no confidence the government will do any better. No new taxes yeah right, just price increases, fees and levys . See the EV market distortions , already prices rising, short supply and punitive fees .

No one thanks

Posted on 01-07-2021 16:00 | By Kancho

Water is a local resource. Tauranga owns the infrastructure .ie. Ratepayers. We don’t need to cross subsidise other places especially if hiking prices to do so, that’s what taxes are for. The consumers used to own Power boards and the power reticulation . Now after reform with Max Bradford and national said lower prices more efficient but power prices shot up as shares holders some foreign want returns on shares. So a slight of hand to sell off power and now water is a prime target maybe. Not a fan

Why have a city Council

Posted on 01-07-2021 11:16 | By

I expect my council to provide me with basic services and little else. I don’t want or need council to dicker around with nonsense issues. I want my waste collected or treated, I want clean fresh water available, I want local roading and footpaths maintained, I want thoughtful city planning and I want council involvement in little else. How many basic public services are local councils directly responsible for now, that haven’t been outsourced to private contractors...? Even the government don’t trust councillors to run basic utilities... But then, I see other motivating forces behind the control of water resources.


Posted on 01-07-2021 10:12 | By

Even they know it’s a rip off because they have to spend millions on ads to try and sell it. More scare tactics from the Government that likes to spread disinformation and hide the truth.

Conquer and divide

Posted on 01-07-2021 09:49 | By Johnney

More of creating divisions and control. We pay rates which is merely tax. The gst should be returned to councils to spend on infrastructure. Leave local councils take care of their own infrastructure. Another disaster in the making.

More control, less democracy

Posted on 01-07-2021 08:16 | By

Boards appointed with input from local council. Input schminput. They will be appointed by the central committee. Another step in the ‘not so gradual’ whittling away of democracy in New Zealand and increasing control by, and increasing reliance on the Socialist government.