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Wairoa District Council cannot support Government's Three Waters Reform

2021 09 28C 3 waters

Wairoa District Council cannot support governments three waters reform

Mayor of Wairoa Craig Little is horrified at the Government’s apparent disinterest in listening to the feedback of local communities by pushing through Three Waters Reforms.

He says while this government has done an exceptional job around COVID management to date, the Wairoa District Council cannot support the appalling three waters reform process.

Mr Little said the government’s decision to legislate to mandate local councils to hand over their drinking water, wastewater and storm water assets to four new multi-regional entities does not reflect the concerns of communities and councils.

“The most important factor in any relationship is trust, and this government has not demonstrated the basic principles of trust and honesty throughout this whole reform process.

“Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta made a commitment to me during a Zoom meeting on August 6, that she would send officials to Wairoa so they could gain information to enable a better understanding of our local Three Waters position. Now, nearly three months on, the government has made a decision and we have still not had a visit.

“Council went into the reform process in good faith based on the Government giving Councils the option to opt in or out of reforms. That option has now been taken off the table and these changes are being forced upon us regardless of what our communities want.

“This government is removing localism from New Zealand and transforming us into a centralised country. This undemocratic system does not work for all of New Zealand. The fact that 60 of the country’s 67 local authorities are against this proposal has been completely ignored by the government.

“Entity C, which Wairoa and Hawke’s Bay will come under, would see responsibility for our three waters assets and service delivery transfer to a multi-regional entity responsible for the whole of the East Coast of the North Island, the top of the South Island and the Chatham Islands. We are told Entity C will comprise of 21 Councils yet only has six Council representatives. Wairoa’s representation of this entity is 1% - our voice will not be heard.

“It is also concerning Hawkes Bay’s regional credible proposal for a regional alternative that would see responsibility for drinking, waste and storm water services staying in Hawke’s Bay has been complexly overlooked.

“Ironically this announcement has come at the same time as Wairoa has been granted a wastewater resource consent by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. It has taken years and over a million ratepayer dollars to get to this stage and now under this new centralised approach I cannot see how we will ever achieve our community and iwi goal of land based, rather than awa based, discharge.

“Minister Mahuta is telling us it is misinformation that is causing fear. It is not. It is the fact the government will force the reforms through despite widespread opposition, many unanswered questions, a flawed rushed process and misleading facts from the government. Now is not the time for the government to turn on Councils and tell us we are self-serving and not looking at the facts. We are only purely looking after our communities as per our elected responsibility and expectations. It is the government that needs to start looking at the facts as the current three waters situation has been caused by lack of investment by central government over many generations.

“This is central government’s reform. Councils did not ask for it and we will not be the scapegoat.

“We have never disagreed with the need for change, but we do disagree with undemocratic and forced change that goes against what most New Zealanders want.

“Wairoa District Council will now meet locally, regionally and with our community and iwi to hear their opinions. Moving forward, like-minded Councils need to work collaboratively to fight this ridiculous mandate which has been flawed from the outset.

“This decision by the government will affect all communities and I urge everyone to please share your opinions with our local MPs who I’m sure will be interested in your thoughts.”

“This decision by the government will most likely mean an economic reform for the entire nation of New Zealand allowing central government to further borrow $120 - $180 billion, this is a massive amount, it is as much as New Zealand’s entire GDP and will affect all communities; So, I urge everyone to please share your opinions with our local MPs who I’m sure will be interested in your thoughts.”

1 November 2021

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