Mahuta admits Māori have not expressed interest in Three Waters assets

Thu, 31 Mar, 2022

”Nanaia Mahuta has admitted under questioning from the ACT Party that there is no need for co-governance around Three Waters,” says ACT Local Government and Environment spokesperson Simon Court.

“I asked Mahuta using Written Parliamentary Questions “does the Minister believe that Māori have rights and interests in Three Waters assets built after 1840, and if so, why?

“Her response was “To my knowledge Māori have not expressed rights and interests in three waters assets over and above those as ratepayers within their respective communities of interest.”

”With that, whatever rationale there was for putting a co-governance model front and centre of the water reforms has been flushed down the drain and she should drop her pretence that Māori co-governance needs to be part of a Three Waters reform programme.

“At the New Zealand Stormwater Conference in May 2021, the Minister told attendees that “officials have focused on equitable outcomes in the proposed new water services entities as a mechanism for recognising iwi/Māori rights and interests.”

“Despite the Minister and her officials lifting every manhole lid to look for any evidence of iwi Māori rights and interests in water supply, sewer and stormwater networks, they could not find one.

“There are real problems with drinking water quality in some communities, failing wastewater networks and sewage overflows into rivers and onto beaches. None of these problems are solved by trying to force Māori co-governance on to a future three waters delivery model.

“The focus must be on ensuring New Zealanders have access to safe drinking water and high-quality infrastructure for storm and wastewater.

”The current system is not up to scratch, but the Government’s Three Waters reforms are not the answer.

“ACT’s alternative Water Infrastructure Plan would allow community control of water assets and improve the necessary infrastructure to ensure safety and efficient water allocation.

ACT would:

  • Return water assets to councils.
  • Allow councils to enter into voluntary “shared services” agreements, gaining the benefits of scale, while retaining local ownership and control.
  • Establish 30-year central-local government agreements to plan water infrastructure upgrades tailored to specific regions.
  • Share GST revenue with councils to fund infrastructure upgrades.
  • Establish public-private partnerships to attract investment from financial entities such as KiwiSaver funds and ACC.

Expand the exemption from domestic supply for a single dwelling to also include all small water suppliers supplying fewer than 30 endpoint users.