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How will the new system work?Ka pēhea te āhua o te pūnaha hou?

There will be ten publicly owned, multi-region entities with a singular focus on delivering safe, reliable and affordable water services to communities.

Each entity’s Regional Representative Group, made up of council and mana whenua representatives will set priorities for these entities and hold them to account. The water entities will have to directly consult with their customers, businesses and residents on their strategic direction, investment priorities and prices and charges.

Here in Hawke’s Bay, ownership of all the water infrastructure and networks that supply your drinking water, wastewater and storm water services will transfer from your council to the new entity for Tairawhiti-Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay.

Boundaries ten water services entities


The water services entities will be collectively owned by councils, meaning water services remain in public ownership.

Each new water services entity will be financially separate from councils.

Governance, representation and accountability

Responsibility for oversight and governance of each new water services entity will be provided through a Regional Representative Group (RRG) that will have members drawn 50/50 from councils and mana whenua. 

Each water services entity will have a competency-based board of between 6 – 10 members who will oversee the day-to-day management of water services, oversee the maintenance and renewal of the water networks and infrastructure and make investment decisions.

The board will be accountable to the RRG and will need to provide a funding and pricing plan and an infrastructure strategy to them at least once every three years.

The board will need to have competence in the delivery of infrastructure and have an understanding of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, mātauranga Māori, tikanga Māori, and te ao Māori.

Mana whenua (including any individual, iwi or hapu or group of iwi or hapu) whose rohe or takiwā includes a fresh water body in the entity’s service area will be able to provide the entity with a Te Mana o te Wai statement for water services and the entity would need to provide a plan setting out how it would give effect to Te Mana o te Wai.


Here's more detail

Public ownership of water services is one reason for establishing the new water services entities in law, and safeguards against future privatisation are also built in through council ownership of the entities. Councils cannot sell or transfer their shares for any reason.

As well, for any future privatisation to go ahead, there will need to be a 75% vote in a public referendum. There will also be restrictions on the sale or transfer of assets held by the new entities.

Each council’s water assets, revenue, liabilities (debts) and staff will all transfer to the new water services entity.

Government has introduced a funding package to support councils through the transition to the new arrangements and to cover the costs and financial impacts that councils will incur because of the reforms.

The support package is made up of two key components:

  1. A “better-off’ component to enable investment into the future for local government and community well-being, to support the priorities of central and local government; and
  2. A “no-worse-off” component to ensure no council is financially worse off in the short-term following the transfer of their three waters services to the new entities.

Here in Hawke’s Bay, the funding support looks like this.

Council Better-off component No-worse-off component
Central Hawke's Bay District Council $11m $1m
Hastings District Council $35m $5m
Napier City Council $26m $4m
Wairoa District Council $19m $1m
Source: Department of Internal Affairs

Each new water services entity will be required to reimburse the Crown (Government) for any expenses or capital expenditure incurred in establishing the entities.

The water services entity Board will need to submit a funding and pricing plan to the RRG at least once every three years.

Beyond that, Government has given no indication how water services will be priced.

A water watchdog in the form of an economic regulation regime will require that appropriate investment in three waters services is maintained and that water users pay fair and reasonable prices for them.

The economic regulation regime and consumer protection mechanisms is being introduced through the legislation.

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