Today the Government took the next step in its Three Waters Reform programme, and announced its intention to create four multi-regional three-waters entities (see Minister Mahuta’s announcement here).

Those four entities are proposed to be comprised as follows:

  • Entity A: Auckland and Northland regions;
  • Entity B: the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and the upper Manawatu-Whanganui regions;
  • Entity C: the Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, lower Manawatu-Whanganui, Wellington, Tasman, Nelson, and Marlborough regions;
  • Entity D: the West Coast, Canterbury, Otago and Southland regions.

While that composition is the Government’s proposed approach, the next stage of consultation will specifically consider:

  • Whether there should be a single entity covering the whole of the South Island, or instead take an approach that uses the Ngāi Tahu takiwā (defined under Treaty settlement legislation as the area Ngāi Tahu is the tāngata whenua of);
  • Which entity the Taranaki region should be a part of; and
  • Whether other districts surrounding the Hauraki Gulf should be a part of Entity A.

The Government’s announcement, and Cabinet papers released alongside it, provided further detail to some of the matters we discussed in our Transforming Three Waters report. Specifically it confirmed that:

  • local authorities will own the water entities, with mana whenua having a joint oversight role;
  • the entities will have a “no shareholding” ownership structure and instead the local authority owners of each entity will be listed in the legislation;
  • local authorities and mana whenua will form a Representative Group that will set expectations for the entity and will select an independent panel to appoint the entity's board;
  • the entities will be required to engage with communities in a meaningful and effective manner on key documents (such as their statement of intent and asset management plan); and
  • the entities will be operationally and financially separate from their local authority owners.

Next steps

A Bill creating the entities and setting out their ownership, purpose, functions and responsibilities, how they are to be governed, and transitional measures will be introduced to Parliament later this year.

Prior to that, a Bill will be introduced to create a bespoke decision-making framework for local authorities as they decide whether to participate in the reform process.

For more information about the reforms and their implications, contact one of our Three Waters Reform team (pictured right). Our team covers the full spectrum of expertise that will be needed through the design, decision-making, transition and implementation stages of the reform programme.

Special thanks to Chris Ryan for drafting this article.


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