Saturday, April 30, 2022

Heather Du Plessis-Allan: The longer it goes on, the more it looks like it isn't really about cleaning up water

The Government is officially pushing on with its Maori co-governance plan for water.

Grant Robertson and Nanaia Mahuta today announced that they’re making some changes to the plan reform but they’re refusing to ditch their sacred cow of co-governance.

Iwi, under the plan as it stands, will still have 50 percent control in appointing water governance boards.

The longer this goes on, the more the Government refuses to budge on the co-governance aspect, the more it looks like this reform isn’t really about cleaning up your water at all, is it?

It’s actually about entrenching a new way of running things in New Zealand, isn’t it? It’s about entrenching Maori co-governance as a system.

This is how it’s going to work in terms of the water assets: The Government’s going to take all council water assets and then throw them together into one of four big water bodies across the country divided up geographically.

Councils will still own their water assets, that’s one of the changes today, they’re going to be assured that they still have a stake in their own water assets, but they won’t control their water assets.

Control will be split between all the councils with assets in the mix and also iwi.

Half the seats on the so-called Regional Representation Group will go to the councils to divvy up between them and half the seats will go to local iwi.

But what is the point in being assured today that you still own something if you can’t control it?

That’s like owning a house but having no say in who lives in the house, how much rent, if any, is charged, when the house gets sold.

If you want a practical example, this is how it’s going to work in Auckland: Auckland is part of the Northern Water Entity with another three councils. It will put in the vast majority of assets because it’s so big – it will put in 93 percent of that entity’s water assets.

There are 14 seats on the regional group that governs that entity, but Auckland ratepayers will only get four of those seats.

Why? Because there are three other councils and they each need to get one seat so that counts for seven seats and then a whopping seven seats also go to iwi.

Here’s a question for you: are you cool with that? Are you cool with giving half the seats to iwi even though you as an Auckland ratepayer pay for 93 percent of the assets?

It’s nonsensical, hardly anyone’s going to answer yes to that.

The Maori co-governance aspect is becoming the single biggest point of contention with this water reform and you think that a pragmatic government would surely look at that and go “this is becoming contentious, let’s drop that part so it doesn’t threaten our plan to clean up that water”.

That is what a pragmatic government would do, right?

Unless of course, that’s the real reason for the reform now.

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show.


DeeM said...

Of course it's all about co-governance. Since 2020 it's only ever been all about co-governance.
To stick with Three Waters, after ditching the Rotorua Council Bill, after ditching the Hate Speech Law, after ditching the Cycle Bridge, shows desperation now.
They can't be seen to abandon one of their flawed flagship policies because what would have been the point of that outright majority. They are going to go down fighting.

This is good news for Kiwis who value democracy. Unfortunately, since this pandemic showed what many Kiwis are really made of - less number eight wire and more face mask wire - that number is probably not as high as we all used to think.

Still, I'm confident we can muster at least 50% which should see a change of government.
That will still be a long way from what many of us want but instead of having a bunch of extreme Left-wing, racist ideologues in charge we'll have a guy with no clear principles or policy who will bend to whatever pressure is applied. That's a much easier thing to work with.
And, thanks to websites like this and the most extreme government in living memory we will have a group of centre-right supporters ready to fight for what they want rather than sit back and expect it to just happen. Thanks Jacinda!!

Anonymous said...

Well we as kiwis don't complain about it and many support stict chinese style lockdowns and masks so why wouldn't people accept co governance also? It's really sad for those of us who believe in democracy and equal rights for all. How many of us care enough though?

Anonymous said...

Same as the separate health authority, all about the co governance.

Anonymous said...

it was never about cleaning water, giving a hand-up to the struggling, protecting nature, redressing the past wrongs etc. m'lady has her eye on the post of the head of UN - all of this is building a case for her to get that. i can assure you that if polls continue to show labor at risk of winning in 2023, she will quit labor, leave NZ on a high note & settle in UN HQ for a long time...

Anonymous said...

Catch up Heather.... this has been obvious for over a year. Unfortunately some people still don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Heather for an excellent article.
Please query why Mahuta wants the 12 miles out to sea area as well, as straight answers from her are hard to come by.

Unknown said...

People joke that NZ is so small that we are all related; but we are in fact so small that Nanaia Mahuta needs to appoint her sister as Co-Chair of the Māori Advisory Group of Taumata Arowai, part of the highly controversial Three Waters reforms. What a small world !