What part do the Councils of Hawke’s Bay play in the reforms?
Our role is to look at the detail on behalf of our communities. We’ll be assessing the information provided by Government until the end of September (2021) and providing feedback to Government. In October we hope to hear more from Government and know more about next steps and any decisions that need to be made.
When will my Council have to make a decision about whether to opt in or out of the Government’s proposal?
Our understanding is that following this 8-week engagement, the Government will consider next steps, including the decision making and community consultation process. We can expect this will probably happen before the end of 2021.
Will I get to have a say before the decision is made?
Hawke’s Bay Councils are talking to their communities as part of the 8-week feedback process to Government. Whether or how Government intends to consult with communities is not clear, at this stage.
When will my Council consult with our community?
Formal consultation is not required yet. That’s because the Government’s proposal hasn’t been finalised. At the moment we’re in an 8-week review period so we can investigate the reforms, assess the potential impact on our councils and provide feedback to Government.
What happens if my Council opts in (based on Government's current proposal)?
If your Council makes that decision, then by 1 July 2024, three waters services would be provided by a new three waters entity covering districts in the eastern and lower parts of the North Island, as well as local authorities at the top of the South Island and the Chatham Islands. Hawke’s Bay Councils would receive a one-off payment of $91 million (Wairoa $19 million, Napier $26 million, Hastings $35 million and Central Hawke’s Bay $11 million) as a support package for the transfer of three waters assets.
What if my council opts out (based on Government's current proposal)?
What we do know from our own review is that the status quo is not an option because of the changes that are being introduced to the way water services are regulated.
There is significant investment required to meet the new standards for drinking, waste and storm water, and to meet communities’ expectations.
The new water regulator – Taumata Arowai – will enforce existing standards, with significant proposed penalties, including fines and criminal proceedings. The Water Services Bill isgoing through Parliament right now.
The Water Services Bill, once enacted, will impose new offences, some carrying criminal penalties, for council officers, employees and agents of drinking water suppliers. It will also confer new duties on local authorities to ensure communities have access to safe drinking water if existing private and community supplies face problems in complying with the regulatory requirements.
An economic regulator will also be introduced. The purpose of an economic regulator is to ensure it’s no longer possible to under invest, or to charge consumers too much or to deliver poor quality service.
Do Hawke’s Bay’s Councils support the Government’s proposal (based on Government's current proposal)?
As a group we have concerns, and our Mayors and Chair wrote to the Minister for Local Government. While we have some information from the Government, there’s still a lot we need to understand.
This is a very complex change, so we need to take our time before making any big decisions.
We want to reassure all of our communities that we are looking at all the information carefully and we will provide opportunities for you to engage in discussions.
Who will own the water assets under the reform proposal?
Under the proposal three waters assets would transfer from the councils to the new entities and would sit on the balance sheet of the entities. The assets wouldn’t be sold – the new entities would be collectively owned by councils, on behalf of communities.
The entities would own and operate three waters infrastructure on behalf of territorial authorities, meaning they would hold three waters assets and associated debt.
Does the proposed model make privatisation likely?
The government is proposing legislative safeguards making it more difficult to privatise, including:
• The councils that make up each entity would be the owners of that entity.
• There would be no shareholding structure and a prohibition on dividends.
• There would be statutory restrictions on the sale or transfer of water assets.
• Any proposal for privatisation would have to be endorsed by the Regional Representative Group (75% majority), put to a public referendum (75% majority), and put through the legislative and select committee processes.
• Mana whenua involvement in oversight and representing 50% of the Regional Representative Group.
How will councils and the community be involved in governing the proposed entities?
Independent, competency-based boards would govern each entity.
Councils and mana whenua would appoint a Regional Representative Group. Local authorities and mana whenua would each appoint up to six members to a Regional Representative Group (up to 12 members in total).
But each entity would also have to engage with its communities on key documents that set its direction. The entity would be required to actively report on how consumer and community feedback was incorporated into decision-making.Source: Department of Internal Affairs
How would mana whenua be involved in governance?
The governments reform proposal provides:
• Statutory recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi and Te Mana o te Wai in legislation.
• A mana whenua representative group at the oversight and strategic influence level of the new water services entities, which would have equal rights to territorial authorities, and a kaupapa Māori selection method for this group.
• Te Mana o te Wai statements, which would be issued to the entity by mana whenua, and to which the entity board would be required to respond.
• Requirements that the board of each entity, collectively, would have competence relating to the Treaty of Waitangi, mātauranga Māori, tikanga Māori, and Te Ao Māori.
• Requirements that the board of each entity would include members with specific expertise in supporting and enabling the exercise of kaitiakitanga, mātauranga and tikanga Māori with respect to the delivery of water services.
• Requirements that the entities would fund and support capability and capacity of mana whenua to participate in relation to three waters service delivery.
Would there be a place for Hawke’s Bay Councils or Iwi on the regional representative group?
It depends. Our Councils would be four (Wairoa, Napier, Hastings, Central Hawke’s Bay) of 21 Councils vying for six places on the regional representative group (RRG), as would Hawke’s Bay iwi be seeking representation in the six places for Māori.
Will I pay less for water services if the reform goes ahead?
Government modelling indicates that anticipated ratepayer costs with reform would be much lower over the long term, however Hawke’s Bay’s Mayors have sought information about likely day 1 costs. See page 3 of the quick guide for more detail.
What does the new model mean for our local staff employed in three waters?
To give staff certainty, Government has announced that council employees that primarily work on water services would be guaranteed roles with the new water service entities that retain key features of their current role - salary, location, leave and hours/days of work.
A more bespoke approach is required for senior executives and contractors. The Three Waters Reform team would work with councils, staff, and unions further on this through a transition period over the coming years, should the reforms proceed as proposed.
How does the Government proposal affect rural residents?
The Government’s Three Waters Reform service delivery proposal affects people who use council-supplied services. Non-council-owned water supplies are being looked at separately by Government, through its Water Services Bill. A Government paper, specifically on rural supplies, can be read here.
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