Democracy Spurned in Iwi Control of Water and Infrastructure - New Conservative NZ

Democracy Spurned in Iwi Control of Water and Infrastructure

New Conservative is deeply concerned at the demise of democracy the nation is experiencing under this Labour Government. 

In an absolute sideshow, the Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta has established a Three Waters working group. It is supposedly tasked with reviewing how it might strengthen representation, governance and accountability in the four Water Services Entities (WSEs) which are being created to control water, sewage and stormwater throughout the country.

The farcical motivation behind this working group is evidenced by the Government’s intention to keep implementing Three Waters by introducing the Water Services Entity Bill and seeing it through the select committee process in tandem with the Working Group’s activities. The members will be paid no matter what the outcomes.

The Terms of Reference for the Group were released last week. They reinforced Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s agenda of entrenching iwi rights to New Zealand’s water. In doing this, she continues to ignore Common Law which states that “no one owns water (which is essential to all life)”, and ride roughshod over New Zealand’s democratic framework and all citizens’ rights.

Working Group members are required to support the Government’s commitment to its “partnership with iwi/Maori” (which has no corroboration in the Treaty of Waitangi); they must also protect and promote Iwi/Maori in the Three Waters service delivery, and use the “reform” as a significant opportunity to improve outcomes for Maori.

The Government obliges the Working Group to keep in mind Three Waters’ bottom lines. These are to:(a) ensure that mana whenua have joint oversight of each WSE together with the relevant local authorities;
(b) integrate within a wider system of iwi/Maori rights and interests in water, (whatever that may mean);
(c) reflect a Te Ao Maori perspective (again this is undefined and undefinable);
(d) support clear accountability of the WSE to iwi/Maori, (not ratepayers!)
(e) address inequities in access to quality three waters service delivery (whether or not communities pay rates or have economies of scale); and
(f) enable iwi/ Maori to have equal rights and mechanisms of influence over the WSE , i.e. equivalent to all local authorities (and their ratepayers) within each region.
And of course, all board members are required to collectively have competence relating to the (re-interpreted) Treaty of Waitangi, and undefined matauranga Maori, tikanga Maori, and Te Ao Maori.


The overwhelming majority of New Zealand’s councils and ratepayers recently (end of October) rejected the Government’s Three Waters proposal for the confiscation and co-governance of water, sewage and stormwater infrastructure. The instigator of Three Waters is the Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta and her plans were developed after approximately 65 hui with Maori, none with other New Zealanders, the general public..

The four WSE will be confiscating ratepayers’ assets across New Zealand so that major control of them, and a large amount of the revenue earning ability from them, can be handed to each region’s iwi.

The Working Group’s members are made up of 50% iwi/Maori participants, there to represent “the Treaty Partner,” and 50% Mayors from carefully selected Councils, apparently there to represent all New Zealanders and ratepayers.

New Conservative calls on the government to listen to Local Government and redesign the three waters proposal along democratic lines to serve all New Zealanders.  Three Waters’ asset ownership must remain in local communities under the governance of democratically elected boards.