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Communities 4 Local Democracy – the voice of more than a million New Zealanders

2021 12 16b

Mayors representing more than a million New Zealanders are taking their Three Waters concerns to Parliament today, marking the first step of a powerful new local democracy campaign.


Wairoa Mayor Craig Little travelled to Wellington to attend the meeting of the mayors saying he is not against change but doesn’t believe the government’s current proposal is the solution.


Communities 4 Local Democracy - He hapori mō te Manapori is a newly formed and growing group of 23 councils from around the country.  The group was created in response to serious concerns about the Government’s Three Waters reforms, and numbers are growing as local councils consider the implications of the proposed legislation – in particular losing control of approximately $60 billion of community owned assets across the whole country.   


More than a dozen mayors and other elected representatives are taking the group’s message to meetings at Parliament with National ACT and the Green Party.


“Like the Government, we want to ensure all New Zealanders have access to safe drinking water and we are committed to working with the Government to achieve that,” says Helen Worboys, Mayor of Manawatu and Chair of the new group.


“No-one disputes the need for investment, but there’s a better way to achieve the Government’s objectives and we want to work in partnership with them on that,” she says. 


“Our action group will introduce fresh ideas for better water.  But our fresh ideas will ensure that our local communities continue to have a say on how the assets that they have bought and paid for are used to achieve our health and environmental goals.


“This is an inclusive campaign – it’s about safe drinking water for all New Zealanders, whoever and wherever they are.  More meaningful Mana Whenua representation is an important part of that.  It’s also an apolitical campaign – we’re completely focused on the issue regardless of political affiliation.


“We are the elected local voice of our communities – communities that are very clearly telling us that they don’t want control of the assets that generations of our ratepayers built up and paid for being snatched away from them as part of the Government’s plan,” Mayor Worboys says.


“We don’t believe that the best solution lies in putting our assets into what will be four of the largest companies in New Zealand – and then denying our communities their say in how those companies are run.”


Mayor Little said the government’s decision does not reflect the concerns of communities and councils and the government needs to listen to the New Zealand people. Our country’s three waters issues date back to the 1980s when the government stopped funding three waters making it impossible for Councils to deliver three waters services and meet the changing requirements.”


Communities 4 Local Democracy is taking a constructive approach to the situation by commissioning expert advice on alternative models that might achieve the objectives of Government and local communities.  It will be sharing its findings when they are complete.


About Communities 4 Local Democracy



  • Communities 4 Local Democracy partner councils (correct at Tuesday 15 December 2021):


Ashburton District Council

Central Hawkes Bay District Council

Christchurch City Council

Far North District Council

Grey District Council

Hurunui District Council

Kaikōura District Council

Kaipara District Council

Kawerau District Council

Manawatu District Council

Matamata-Piako District Council

Napier City Council

Ōpōtiki District Council

South Taranaki District Council

South Waikato District Council

Tararua District Council

Timaru District Council

Waimakariri District Council

Waimate District Council

Waipa District Council

Wairoa District Council

Westland District Council

Whangarei District Council



  • Three partner councils (Whangārei District Council, Timaru District Council and Waimakariri District Council) recently filed a High Court application seeking clarification of what ownership means in relation to their ratepayer-funded water assets.  Between them, these three councils have $1.76 billion in ratepayer funded water infrastructure.


Media contact: Stephen Doran - 027 202 7784

2021 12 16a


16 December 2021

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