Waipā District Council and Federated Farmers have reacted angrily to the government’s decision to take away its water assets in favour of four new mega entities.
Local Government minister Nanaia Mahuta made the announcement yesterday that its Three Waters reforms – drinking, waste, and storm water – would go ahead.
Under the plan, four publicly-owned multi-regional entities will take on responsibility for the country’s water infrastructure – a role now carried out by 67 local authorities.
Waipā mayor Jim Mylchreest said councils had acted in good faith, but the government had now removed communities’ rights to have a voice on the future of water entities.
He called on Local Government New Zealand to consider any legal avenues available, particularly whether the government was constitutionally allowed to make the decision it did.
“I don’t think the (Waipā) community is ready to accept this and they would expect us to fight.”
Waipā councillor Susan O’Regan, who represents a rural ward and been a vocal opponent around the council table, said she was “furious” at the decision.
“It is unacceptable that the minister has refused to listen to the overwhelming opposition expressed not only by councils the length of the country but from its citizens.
“Mandating these reforms in the face of this almost unanimous opposition clearly sends the message this government is focused on fulfilling its ideological agenda rather than consider the views of its citizens,” she said.
“It is clearly an audacious move in an unpopular week for this government.”
Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard urged rural residents to “gear up” to have their say.
New Zealanders have voiced serious misgivings over the government’s plans, he said.
“We remain opposed to this plan.
“The government’s announcement today that this will be mandatory is a huge call.”