Govt forges on with Three Waters Reform

The four entities are expected to be operational by 2024. Photo: John Borren/SunLive.

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta is confirming the Government will create four publicly owned water entities as part of the contentious Three Waters Reform.

This announcement comes despite the numerous objections from people around New Zealand, including councils and the public alike.

Mahuta says the entities are to ensure every New Zealander has access to affordable, long-lasting drinking, waste and storm water infrastructure without ballooning costs to households and families.

Since the Three Waters Reform – which will see drinking water, wastewater and stormwater transferred into the management of four regional entities, rather than the current 67 local council control – numerous concerns have been raised.

Protestors outside Tauranga City Council earlier this month. Supplied photo.

These included concerns over a lack of information, opportunities for community input, loss of local control, ownership of assets, iwi involvement and efficiency and cost of services. Read more here.

In her announcement today, Mahuta says the case for change is too compelling to ignore.

She says it’s clear that without the establishment of these publicly-owned entities New Zealand will continue to see a frail network and contaminated water in many communities.

“To delay will only push the problem on, increase future household costs and put livelihoods at risk.

“These reforms have been long signalled. In our manifesto we committed to tackling big issues that others have long neglected in order to future-proof New Zealand.”

It is estimated $185 billion is needed to fix, upgrade and maintain New Zealand’s water services over the next 30 years, to ensure that critical water infrastructure is maintained.

Mahuta says New Zealanders simply cannot afford to follow the status quo facing costs of between $1900 and $9000 over the next 30 years, depending on location.

She says under reform proposals with four entities, those figures significantly reduce to between $800 and $1640.

Mahuta believes it would be irresponsible to pour taxpayers’ money into propping up a broken system, or let households face unprecedented rises in water costs.

“Currently 43 of the 67 councils do not have the revenue to cover their water services operating expenditures at the moment, let alone once the infrastructure starts failing.

“As we recover from the impacts of Covid-19, we are helping accelerate our economic recovery through the creation of 6000 to 9000 new jobs and a boost to our economy of $14 billion to $23 billion over the next 30 years.”

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

Work is underway to establish a working group of local government, iwi and water industry experts to work through elements of entity design.

The group will work through the enhancements to entity design and look at the governance and accountability arrangements of the entities, as well as provide an opportunity for public participation and consultation.

“It is a bottom line for the government that the entities remain in public ownership,” says Mahuta.

“As we look to next steps, I will be introducing legislation to progress the establishment of the entities. The Select Committee process will provide an opportunity to get public feedback on the reforms.

“I also want to signal to those people currently working in water services across councils that this is a critical step change to improve the status quo and we need all workers to be assured that their interests are very important to maintain continuity and continue to grow these skills in our communities.”

Cabinet has also tasked the Department of Internal Affairs with establishing a unit to focus on the successful implementation of these reforms.

This unit will work with the local government sector, iwi, water industry and other stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition to the new arrangements.

Read here for the Three Waters Reform Timeline.

See more key reform fact and figures here.

Click here for more information about the reform.

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Riding roughshod over democracy

Posted on 27-10-2021 17:38 | By Kancho

The government had no mandate for 3 waters although clearly this was in their sights pre election that didn’t put it in policy statements. Why ? because they wouldn’t be in government today if they had. They will borrow billions to build this centralised bureaucracy There is always more than one way to achieve goals and using forcing isn’t the way. All that was really required was the government use its vast collection of taxes, gst, duties, etc to assist council funding improvements to the systems. Ratepayers have struggled now is the time for everyone to contribute it’s called taxes and also our money. Instead they are attacking local government and seizing assets and setting up undemocratic, seperatism governance. Fortunately we get to vote before they can enact this attack on ratepayers assets and governance that is by local interest not government bureaucracy.

Thankfully we have

Posted on 27-10-2021 16:57 | By R. Bell

a government that refuses to bow to the will of self serving councilors and populist opposition politicians and their supporters. Most councils lack the expertise needed for future water supplies when all factors are considered. The usual scare mongering has not worked and should never be allowed to cloud the judgement of a progressive government.


Posted on 27-10-2021 14:38 | By

It is good that the control of water will be taken away from councils. Although, some councils have done a great job keeping up with the infrastructure in terms of replacement, repair and population demands, many have not. All they have done, is empire build to the detriment of the residents. An attitude of Ít’s OK at my place" has prevailed and has been a very common reply. Hopefully things may change for the better.


Posted on 27-10-2021 14:25 | By jim

Obviously democracy is alive and well in NZ. Ask for feedback and public consultation and proceed regardless.

Disgraceful Government

Posted on 27-10-2021 12:55 | By

There has been no mandate through the electoral system for this government to be changing this service. I see it once again as race based politics, when viewed through the intended make-up of the governing bodies. Unelected board members once again. I wonder how many ex members of parliament will eye up the increased salaries on offer to board members and work the system to get appointed by racial affiliations only. One or two family names spring to mind immediately.

Like Jacinda,

Posted on 27-10-2021 12:21 | By

Nanaia Mahuta needs to go. Between them they are rapidly stripping New Zealand of our democratic right. What has Mahuta cost us to go ahead with her ludicrous idea without any intent to listen? Also, why does this need iwi input? They have absolutely no more right to water than anyone else.

Maths error surely?

Posted on 27-10-2021 12:06 | By

$9000.00 divided by 30 years equals $300 a year. I am sure I and many other ratepayers can afford that. BTW just think what $300.00 with be worth in 30 years’ time.


Posted on 27-10-2021 11:24 | By dumbkof2

what mahuta wants mahuta gets. roll on the next election and get rid of this useless govt that won’t listen to the people

Listen to the people

Posted on 27-10-2021 11:18 | By

What is this person thinking Just have a look at your own poll on this matter She says the change is too compelling to ignore, can she not read? She is not much good at listening to the majority of local councils either. Just pushing her own agenda! As for her comments "As we recover from the impacts of Covid" Who is recovering Not Business that is for sure.

Easy Fix

Posted on 27-10-2021 11:11 | By

Govt to supply low cost loans to local councils ? Easy and done. No need to give govt full centralized control.

Doesn’t Make Sense

Posted on 27-10-2021 10:45 | By

Is the government deliberately campaigning to lose the next election?

These Muppets aren't listening.

Posted on 27-10-2021 10:43 | By Kancho

Consultations don’t mean a thing nor does the voters get to speak. Seems we need to vote like never before next year election. This is not democratic governance