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Council reinforces stance against three waters proposal

Three Waters

Wairoa District Councillors have reinforced their strong stance against the government’s three waters reform plan.  

At an extraordinary Council meeting on Tuesday, elected members re-endorsed Council’s position, as per its submission to the Government’s Three Waters Reform Proposal, while also positioning to be prepared for change.

Chief executive Kitea Tipuna, who was delegated to begin undertaking necessary steps for transition to a new three waters entity, said Council must position itself as best as possible in the event the Government’s proposal is implemented.

Mayor Craig Little said he is disappointed the proposal was pushed through, particularly in this COVID environment. “The government did not take any notice of Council’s submission or answer the 28 questions that were asked.”

Cr Danika Goldsack agreed labelling the time spent on Council’s submisison as a waste of time, and staff resources.

Cr Jeremy Harker said it has been a disappointing process to feed information to government that has been ignored. “I have no confidence in the ability of government due to policy failures of the past. Centralisation is not the solution and I support challenging the judicial process that has been forced upon us.”

Cr Chaans Tumataroa-Clarke said status quo is not an option but Entity C cannot be the best solution to the issues around water quality, affordability and upgrade of infrastructure. “I fully support whatever is best for Wairoa.  Nothing has changed since Council’s submission, except government mandating.  It’s not that we are being forced into something – I am angry that solutions aren’t right and concerned at the assumptions that underpin the model.”   

Cr Denise Eaglesome-Karekare described the government’s actions as a breach of faith. She said while Entity C is not the preferred option, it could be broken into regions, such as Hawke’s Bay, which could meet the government objectives.

Cr Melissa Kaimoana stressed Council is not opposed to change, however change needs to be in line with what Wairoa needs and fits with our priorities. “The way this has been forced on our country can be likened to the way the Crown treated our tipuna years ago.  It hasn’t been meaningful. These three waters assets were paid for by communities not the crown. Communties deserve to be part of the process.”  

Cr Hine Flood said she is absolutely opposed to Entity C and the loss of local voice and being swallowed up with 21 councils which have to consider their own communities. “I am disappointed at the Minsiter’s statement that assets will stay with Councils. In my mind this is theft by stealth.  We need to engage to ensure our assets remain the assets of this entire community.  Our hands are not tied – we need to encourage our communtiy to become more informed on where we are at and speak out.”   

Independent Infrastructure committee member Chris Olsen said it is hard to find a win/win that suits central government and local government. “The relationship with Central Government and the Department of Internal Affairs has been irrevocably damaged and that is a big hurdle to overcome.”

Mr Little said the government’s response to three waters has been to take a sledge hammer to crack a nut. “You can’t leave those who created the problem in charge of the solution.” 

Mr Little and chief executive Kitea Tipuna were delegated to continue to advocate for the Wairoa community with Mr Little adding he has not met anybody who supports the three waters proposal in its current form.

Mr Little is proactively working with other Councils across the country. He said this had not been happening previously because Local Government New Zealand had let Councils down trerribly by signing the Heads of Agreement which means they cannot oppose this mandate. “That is why I am working with other Councils, outside of LGNZ, while still remaining part of that organisation. 

“I want to assure our community that we are working to ensure Wairoa is in the best position possible, regardless of what changes are imposed upon us, and we are doing everything we can to achieve the best outcomes for our community and iwi.”

10 November 2021

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