Early last year many of us made submissions on the Water Services Regulator Bill. Following the public consultation process the Government passed the Taumata Arowai – Water Services Regulator Act in July 2020. The reform programme is now being progressed through a voluntary, partnership-based approach with the local government sector, alongside iwi/Māori as the Crown’s Treaty Partner.
The Act established Taumata Arowai as a Crown Agent, providing for its objectives, functions, operating principles, and governance arrangements, including the appointment of an independent Board and a Māori Advisory Group. This was immediately followed by the Government launching the Three Waters Reform Programme - a three-year programme to reform local government three waters service delivery arrangements.
Under the government's planned reforms, water services would no longer be controlled by the country's councils and would instead be operated by a small number of publicly owned multi-regional entities. The exact ownership structures are still being worked out, but the local authorities may still have the option of retaining ownership of the assets, or holding shares in the new organisations. Councils also have the option of opting out of the reforms.
Government officials are also looking at options for Crown and iwi/Māori ownership of the new water services providers.
According to a Cabinet minute released by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta in December, a shortlist of options has been identified and further consultation with councils and iwi is planned in March.
For more information see: Central/Local Government Three Waters Reform Programme
Two iwi go to court to seek shared control and management of freshwater with the Crown.
Ngāti Kahungunu has joined Ngāi Tahu in court action that seeks shared control and management of freshwater with the Crown. The two iwi are working together to have Ngāti Kahungunu's rangatiratanga over freshwater recognised, including at the Mohaka River in Hawke's Bay. See: Ngāti Kahungunu joins Ngāi Tahu's claim for shared control of freshwater with the Crown