Wairoa District Councillors have indicated a strong preference to pursue a Hawke’s Bay Three Waters Regional Entity.
At an extraordinary Council meeting on Tuesday the submission to the Government's Three Waters Reform proposal was adopted unanimously.
Mayor Craig Little said Wairoa District Council has concerns with the government’s proposal and based on current information we would have no option but to provisionally ‘opt out’, until more accurate, reliable and contextually appropriate information is made available to ensure elected members and the Wairoa community, including tangata whenua, has confidence in the claimed benefits as proposed in the Government’s reforms.
Key areas of concern were the assumptions that underpin the model used in the case for change where Council believes its specific data has been overstated; lack of meaningful engagement with community, including local iwi and tangata whenua, the dilution and absence of local voice in representation and governance; and uncertainty in the arrangements for funding/transfer of assets, ownership and responsibilities.
Mr Little believes that given the complexity and amount of information provided, that the eight-week period, which was disrupted by the Delta COVID lockdown, did not allow for deep meaningful engagement with affected communities, particularly ratepayers, who are the rightful owners of three waters assets managed by Councils.
“Council funded community meetings to gauge initial thoughts and views from our community and this engagement was followed up with an online survey.
“Our strong view is the Government has failed to ensure local communities have been, and continue to be, informed about their Three Waters Reform proposal. The Wairoa District Council, like other Councils around the country, have absorbed the costs of ensuring its affected communities are aware of the reforms proposal because we believe it is imperative our communities, including tangata whenua, are informed appropriately about the potential impacts of this Government’s Three Waters proposal.
Mr Little said Council agreed there is a case for change in the way in which water services are delivered, and that the benefits of the Hawke’s Bay model will better serve the communities of Wairoa.
Council’s submission will now be finalised ahead of being sent to the Department of Internal Affairs.
The Government has proposed a new way of managing and governing three waters (stormwater, wastewater and drinking water) beginning in 2024. Their proposal centres on moving control of three waters away from New Zealand’s 67 local councils and giving it to four new, centralised, entities. Each entity would look after three waters services delivery for about one million people. In the case of Hawke’s Bay, the government’s proposal puts us into ‘Entity C’, which would be made up of 21 councils and would stretch from above Gisborne, to Wellington, and include the top of the South Island and the Chatham Islands.
28 September 2021
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