Canterbury mayors continue to fight Government over water reforms

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Apr 18, 2022 |


Canterbury Mayors along with representatives of the 32 member councils have presented politicians with their plan for three waters reform.

Kaikoura Mayor Craig Mackle, and Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon were among those who flew to Wellington to present their 10 point plan for reform to the Minister for Local Government, Nanaia Mahuta and Department of Internal Affairs officials last week.

Hurunui Mayor Marie Black said “for a rural community like Hurunui, this four-entity proposal from the government is not going to fit.

Kaikoura Mayor Craig Mackle

“These mega-entities will never have the same level of community connection and responsiveness of a locally managed and delivered alternatives such as the C4LD have provided.”

Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon said “it is not too late to rescue this reform.”

“We are offering in our 10 point plan an approach that we believe would achieve broad support. The whole local government sector is eager to partner and work with the Government to turn this around and find a lasting solution that Councils and communities can all support.”

Kaikoura Mayor Craig Mackle said all Communities 4 Local Democracy members agree that reform is needed but he isn’t convinced the current model will last.

“The Government is pushing ahead with their preferred model which doesn’t build on local knowledge, connection, or partnership with Mana Whenua.”

“These are all core elements to effective reform and I’ll be astounded if the Government continue to push ahead despite almost universal feedback against this.”

Manawatu District Mayor Helen Worboys

Manawatu District Mayor and C4LD Chair Helen Worboys said the group is keen to work with all parties to ensure any reforms have the broad base of support needed for major long-term infrastructure investment.

“The proposals we’ve brought to the table enable the Government to deliver on all its aims, create opportunities for strong and lasting partnerships and deliver safe, sustainable and affordable water services for all New Zealand,” she said.

“They enable us build on existing partnerships and forge new relationships with Mana Whenua at a local level that consider co-design and partnership arrangements to acknowledge and enable Te Tiriti based pathways at a local and regional level.”

“They also provide for the continuation of local influence and community property rights.”

“We’re confident that we’re in line with the majority of New Zealanders. We’ve presented a reform framework that is directly supported by nearly half of councils in New Zealand and is aligned with the views of the majority of other councils, most notably Auckland representing 1.7 million people.”

The full presentation to the minister outlining C4LD’s framework for reform is now available at

C4LD’s 10 point proposal for compromise – supported by all members – reads:

  • Foundation principle – community property rights in Three Waters assets are to be both respected and meaningful.

  • The Government should agree to amend its current reform process and allow time for the revised approach to be reflected in draft legislation.

  • With respect to investment decision-making, asset owners should actively seek to initiate authentic discussions with mana whenua at a local level that consider co-design and partnership arrangements that acknowledge and enable Te Tiriti based pathways at a local and regional level.

  • In return, asset owners agree to commit to meeting health and environmental standards, once known, within an appropriate time frame.

  • The regulatory framework should specify a “backstop” provision that identifies a set of circumstances which would justify future Crown intervention if an asset owner was not making acceptable progress towards meeting those regulatory requirements.

  • Progress should be reported on annually by asset owners and be benchmarked across the sector.

  • To further incentivise sector progress, a formal process might be established that requires an asset owner to prepare a plan that would map out the steps it proposes to take to meet the required standards in a financially viable and sustainable manner.

  • A process to finance and allocate funds to areas that will require financial assistance be designed that is national in application and independently administered accordingly to objective and transparent criteria (this is consistent with the recommendation of the Productivity Commission in November 2019).

  • This subsidy scheme will be designed to meet investment shortfalls until such time as sufficient progress has been made. At which point the scheme will cease and asset owners will finance matters on a business-as-usual approach.

  • A sector-wide sector best-practice improvement process be created and membership made compulsory. (In a similar manner used to implement successfully the One Network Road Classification Framework and now One Network Framework in the road infrastructure area, and governed by Waka Kotahi and the Local Government Sector.)

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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