The Government’s Three Waters Reforms are shifting New Zealand’s waters services into four new entities across New Zealand.
The reform will see the delivery of Tauranga’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater transferred from Council to a new central North Island entity (Entity B) covering the greater Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and parts of Manawatū-Whanganui.
We will continue to manage Tauranga’s water services until the new entity is expected to come into place on 1 July 2024.
Why the change?
Local Councils are facing significant challenges with the future management of drinking water, stormwater and wastewater services.
The Government has set out four key outcomes of the Three Waters Reform:
- safe, reliable drinking water
- better environmental performance of wastewater and stormwater services
- efficient, sustainable, resilient and accountable multi-regional water and sewage services
- making it affordable for future generations.
To read more about the Government’s three waters reform programme visit the Three Waters website.
What does this mean for Tauranga?
While Tauranga City Council is delivering some of the best water services in New Zealand, we can still see challenges that need to be addressed.
With the details of the Reform yet to be finalised, we are focusing on preparations to best position our Council with the timeframes for change we have been given. While we agree with the intent of the Reform, we have raised a number of concerns on behalf of our community. We will engage with the Government and working groups at every opportunity to ensure our local issues are considered.
How the water assets will be owned in the new structure
The water assets, along with any associated debt, will be transferred to the new entity. The new entity will be publicly owned through the allocation of shares to all councils who transfer assets.
This means that the change will free up debt for Tauranga City Council significantly improving the financial situation for Council.
We recognise and support the need for iwi/Māori to work alongside council to ensure that any reform doesn’t adversely impact existing rights and interests. We also see value in the perspective Tangata Whenua can offer as the reforms unfold.
A partnership brings the opportunity to incorporate the value of mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) to facilitate the best outcomes for New Zealand communities. The reform provides an opportunity to start this process side-by-side.
The reform is aimed at delivering the outcomes of Te Mana o te Wai, a set of principles co-designed with iwi/Māori to lift the water quality of our streams, rivers and lakes.
Locally, we have committed to working in partnership with Te Rangapū Mana Whenua o Tauranga Moana (the representative group for our iwi and hapū in the Tauranga City Council area).
Transitioning to the new entities
The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has established a National Transition Unit (NTU) to focus on the practical implementation of the reforms. This unit will work with the local government sector, iwi, water industry and other stakeholders to transition to the new arrangements.
We are being proactive in getting involved with transition discussions to see the best outcome for Tauranga’s people, our environment and future generations.
Concerns from our community
Central Government asked councils to seek feedback from their communities on the Three Waters reform proposal in late 2021. The results of an online survey for our Tauranga community were used to develop feedback sent to central government in September 2021.
View the 2021 Three Waters reform feedback
The concerns raised by the community have been summarised into ten themes, and we are using these themes as the basis for our feedback to government.
Read more information about these concerns, and their current status.(37kb pdf)