Monday, October 17, 2022

Graham Adams: Three Waters - Voters don’t know the half of it

When the public grasps just how much power is being handed to iwi, opposition will skyrocket.

Car company magnate Henry Ford once said: “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”

The same might be said of Nanaia Mahuta’s plans to confiscate the nation’s water infrastructure assets — paid for by generations of ratepayers and taxpayers — and to hand disproportionate control of them to iwi.

Although there is already widespread opposition to Three Waters — with the provisions for co-governance a significant objection — the vast majority of the voting public has no idea of just how much control Three Waters will hand to unelected Māori elites.

When more New Zealanders come to understand clearly that the real purpose of Three Waters is to broker a radical “Treaty settlement disguised as an infrastructure project” — as David Seymour put it — all political hell will break loose.

What stands between the public and such an explosive realisation is a lazy and myopic mainstream media, more than happy to take $55 million of government funds on condition they support a widely contested view of the Treaty as a 50:50 power-sharing arrangement between the Crown and iwi.

In fact, Three Waters goes much further than that. While it prescribes 50:50 co-governance at the overarching strategic level of the four Regional Representative Groups, iwi will have a dominating influence all the way down through the subordinate levels of management.

While the mainstream media snoozes, independent blogs and news sites are pointing out that the principal mechanism for such comprehensive control are the Te Mana o Te Wai statements, buried deep within the Water Services Entities Bill.

And it is clear these statements — edicts that can be issued at will by iwi and hapū and are effectively binding on the water services entity in their region — have no limits or restrictions on what may be included in them.

The bill simply states: “Mana whenua whose rohe or takiwā [territory] includes a freshwater body in the service area of a water services entity may provide the entity with a Te Mana o te Wai statement for water services.”

Anything that an iwi or hapū decides is consistent with their view of matauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) or tikanga (customs) may be used as a basis for making a binding order.

The statements have been described accurately by the pseudonymous citizen journalist Thomas Cranmer as handing “unbridled power” to iwi.

Kaipara’s former mayor Dr Jason Smith put it bluntly in mid-June in a tweet: “Whoever gets to write Te Mana o Te Wai statements gets control of water, land, planning rules and regulations, land use… TMoTW statements will cover every pipe, river, creek, farm pond or fresh water body.”

When the general public grasps clearly that Māori will have the right to direct how water is managed at a local level but that same right will be denied to everyone else, Ardern’s government will face a wave of revulsion among those who have little patience for race-based policy.

As Dr Jason Smith put it: “Actively excluding around 85 per cent of New Zealand’s people from engaging in a process which affects everyone/every square inch of the land and the salt water many miles out to sea deserves closer examination.

“If Te Mana o Te Wai is such an important principle then surely everyone (ngā tāngata katoa) should be able to be involved. So many parts of society actively excluded from participating is unacceptable and unjustifiable.”

As you might expect, the Māori King is fully aware of exactly what the Te Mana o Te Wai statements mean for iwi — and, unlike his Tainui relative, Nanaia Mahuta, he is not shy about spelling it out in public.

In August, at the 16th anniversary celebrations of his coronation, Kiingi Tuheitia told his influential audience at Ngaruawahia:

"The current government has embraced Te Mana o Te Wai. But what does that mean? It is more than a statement about the importance of water. Te Mana o Te Wai belongs to us, to our iwi. It is about our relationship to our taonga [treasures] and about the wairua [spirit] of our water:

“Our life force. Our past. Our present. Our future

"Waikato Awa [River] will always be part of the Kiingitanga. It is who we are…We live on the river; by the river and for the river. So too does every iwi in Aotearoa – kei a taatou te mana o te wai. I will say it again – Te Iwi Maaori owns the water.

“We are prepared to share our taonga for the wellbeing of all. But it must be done on our terms and our tikanga — that is our way.”

The exclusive right to issue Te Mana o Te Wai statements embedded in the Three Waters legislation makes it clear that “[sharing] taonga… on our terms and our tikanga” will effectively mean: “Let’s compromise. Let’s do it our way.”

The Water Services Entities Bill, which establishes the four regional entities, passed its first reading in Parliament in June and the Finance and Expenditure Committee is currently sifting through 88,000 submissions — with the overwhelming majority opposed to the bill.

National’s shadow spokesman for local government, Simon Watts, said he could “count the number of submissions that were in support of the bill on my two hands and the remainder of that was significant opposition”.

In the wake of the recent local-body elections that have also been widely viewed as a hostile verdict on Three Waters, Jacinda Ardern has suddenly taken a more conciliatory approach to discussing Three Waters. She has assured voters the government remains “open to changes” but there are no signs so far that her administration will back away from its legislative programme in any meaningful way.

And the Prime Minister’s assurances will undoubtedly be viewed as hollow. Her record on telling the truth about Three Waters is as shameful as that of her Minister of Local Government, Nanaia Mahuta.

After all, both the Prime Minister and her senior minister allowed the nation’s 67 councils to provide extensive feedback late last year about whether they wanted to join the scheme when both knew full well a decision to mandate signing up had already been made by Cabinet months earlier in July.

In Parliament last October, National’s Nicola Willis held up the front page of the Wairarapa Times-Age — featuring a quote from Masterton councillor Tina Nixon about Three Waters — and asked if Mahuta had seen it.

The phrase “a deceitful, lying pack of bastards” was plastered across it in huge type.

It was clear to everyone that the “consultation” with councils had been a sham all along. For the Prime Minister to now claim the government is “open to changes” — and expect to be believed — is laughable.

It is not only the undemocratic nature of Three Waters handing unbridled power to iwi that will make voters’ blood boil either. There is also the question of just how risky billions of dollars of highly leveraged loans overseen by a novel governance structure will be for the nation’s finances.

In a Substack post last week, Thomas Cranmer — an internationally recognised lawyer in the field of leveraged finance — wrote: “The unusual mix of massive debt allied to an untested model of governance is, in my professional opinion, a recipe for disaster. And a disaster that could easily turn out to be ruinous for the country’s finances.”

He has also pointed out this week to The Platform that “the sheer size of the debt required for Three Waters will just keep on growing”.

He says government documents show there are “no plans for it to be repaid in the foreseeable future. It is effectively perpetual debt on a massive scale.”

Even the apparently “free money” being dished out right now by the government to councils to use for local projects is simply being put on the nation’s credit card.

Cranmer: “Whatever those councils choose to spend that money on — whether it is a new library or some improvements to a local park — will become debt that will require ratepayers to service long into the future.

“The ‘better-off' and ‘no-worse-off’ funding / bribes that Mahuta is handing out to councils now will form part of that Three Waters debt which we will all pay interest on every year for the foreseeable future. It will still be outstanding in 2048 with no plans to pay it off!”

In the weekend, Winston Peters made it clear at NZ First’s party conference what he thought of the confiscation of assets in Three Waters and handing power over them to iwi:

“This simply is theft masked as ‘reform’.”

Ardern and Mahuta now have Act and NZ First both competing for votes on the highly combustible issue of co-governance and Maori separatism, with an immediate focus on Three Waters.

With David Seymour and Winston Peters — two of the nation’s most formidable and capable Māori politicians — on the case, voters can expect the temperature of the debate to rise sharply.

Graham Adams is an Auckland-based freelance editor, journalist and columnist. This article was originally published by and is published here with kind permission.


Anna Mouse said...

And the temperature needs to rise because this is bluntly, treasonous.

Anonymous said...

So what could be the worst case scenario if 3 waters goes ahead in it's current form? Could iwi confiscate private land or just the water on it? Would this force farmers to sell farms to iwi? What about private home owners?

Robert Arthur said...

There can be few times in our history when the msm was so blatantly and uniformly partisan. Perhaps if they risked the PIJFunding and gave some publicty to the enormity of the Three Waters proposal they might trigger another round of lucrative Labour advertising for same and profit even further. It will be intriguing to observe the msm response after the pending rout of Labour and of maori and of recent Treaty reinterpretation.

Terry Morrissey said...

To quote Masterton councillor,Tina Nixon, this labour cult are "a deceitful, lying pack of bastards" in anything they may decide to have any interest in. Be it Three Waters, Health, Education, Justice, Police, Immigration, Covid, or whatever. They are completely incompetent and untrustwothy. The sooner they are gone the better off New Zealanders will be.

Anonymous said...

There are two types of people in New Zealand: woke women with an agenda so dangerous it needs to be hidden, and cowardly men who are too scared to do anything.

Anonymous said...

Graham, Wayne Brown has shown Mayors of every council what to do.
Simply down tools and stop all work on 3 Waters. Refuse point blank to cooperate until it is gone and Labour with it.
This is theft and the politicians who dreamed it up should face fraud charges.

DeeM said...

Te Mana o te Wai statements are nothing more than a direct instruction to do things for the benefit of the Maori elite or a veto of policy which does not do enough for the Maori elite.

This has nothing to do with Matauranga Maori or tikanga - these are a cultural facade to shield the self-serving desire for money and power that high-level Maori see almost within their grasp.

Water does NOT belong to anyone. It falls from the sky and is collected for use in reservoirs or drawn from rivers or bores. Then returns to the sea.
Buying into this outdated, cultural mumbo-jumbo does a massive dis-service to ALL NZders and unfairly confers privilege on a tiny elite racial minority.

It's a social disaster in the making and there are plenty of failed examples in the recent past. It only goes to show that many of our elected MPs are not fit to govern this country on the basis that they support racial preferment in all things.

John Porter said...

How great would it be to see/hear Chris Luxon publicly state "No co-governance under any circumstances!"

Imagine what that would do for his ratings.

This racist outrage must be stopped. It's great to see Wayne Brown taking a stand.

Handz said...

To write a Te Mana o Te Wai statement you must be a recognised iwi or hapu member. So for the planned mega water entity that covers most of the SI, Ngai Tahu, who have approx 50,0000 registered members means that just 4% of the SI's population controls the water. And a bunch of the 50,000 unelected elite doesn't even live in the SI (Ngai Tahu heritage but live in the NI or overseas. And remember all these TMoTW statements have to be ticked off by Nania's sister Tipa Mahuta.

Graham Adams said...

Thanks for that analysis, Handz. That's an excellent point about 4% of the SI population having all that control via TMoTW statements
And you're right about Tipa. As chair of Te Puna – the Maori Advisory Group, she controls Taumata Arowai, which regulates the WSEs.
And, yes, she does tick off the statements.

Hone said...

Tainui talk about water control being "our way". to quote: We are prepared to share our taonga for the wellbeing of all. But it must be done on our terms and our tikanga — that is our way.” Here is just one example of their way when they attacked Taranaki and sacked Pukerangiora Pa : The first prisoners taken by the invaders as they came along—about the Urenui district—were offered as a sacrifice to their atuas, or gods. They next captured a party of twenty-five persons who were returning from an inland settlement, and who were unaware of the presence of the invaders in the district; these people were all slain and devoured by the leaders of the Waikato party. They laid waste the whole of what is now known as the Urenui, Onaero, Waihi, and Tikorangi districts, occupied at that time by the Ngati-Mutunga, Ngati-Rahiri, Otaraoa, and other hapus of Te Ati-Awa, burning the sacred cemeteries and committing with impunity every barbarity a savage is capable of.
This is taken from Victoria University archives.
So what will they do if we breach their rules? Use their lovely history, tikanga on us?