Waatea News Column: How to turn Three Waters into a vote winning issue


There has been speculation by political pundits that Nanaia Mahuta should step aside from her role in Three Waters because local councils are upset and because the negative politics play to a narrative of Māori are taking the water.

There is fear that Three Waters is a poisoned chalice where every local gob wanting to make a name for themselves will run on a weird anti-Three Waters platform this local politics election season.

This fear argues we should water down Three Waters and concede the goal of a more sustainable water infrastructure.

I believe those pundits are wrong and that Nanaia is the exact political leader with the mana to see this through!

Make this an issue of public water versus privatisation of water. ACT and National could attempt to privatise any future Three Waters assets and that is the political divide on the issue.

Three Waters should also be a determination of water sovereignty by stopping foreign water bottling companies. Each Free Trade deal has a Waitangi Tribunal clause that allows for contracts to be ended if they breach Waitangi Tribunal obligations.

This way, Three Waters becomes a public ownership issue while using the Treaty of Waitangi to protect water sovereignty for every New Zealander.

Three Waters is a vote winner if it’s true values are revealed to Kiwis.

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

First published on Waatea News.


  1. Three Waters should indeed be a vote winner if it is put as public ownership vs private sell offs and sell outs.
    Water, in case anyone has not yet realised, is a very valuable resource these days. Australia is virtually a burnt out sand pit due to lack of it.

    Parochialism, like in Whangarei “we have already upgraded our water treatment thank you”, (but the ageing sewerage still fails!) is being exploited by Nats with their bigger privatisation goal in view. And remember, all these local Govt. numpties are unrepentant dirty filthy Torys and so are the Councillors in the main. They are not known for fighting for “democracy“ unless it suits them.

    Wellington’s latest performance art displays are showers of shit projected high into the air by ruptured worn out infrastructure. It is a problem all over the country–remember Havelock North? Every locality has its infrastructure horror story.

    Three Waters could be a win over the right–but this majority MMP Govt. seems too timid too take a hard line on anything much progressive, so are people going to start persuading them?

    • What makes you think National wants to privatise water? Their obvious strategy is to give a guarantee that they will not, but instead will reinforce Council ownership (as is currently the case).
      Most people don’t see any problem with Council ownership. Any specific water quality issues can be fixed by targeted grants to the relevant councils.
      As a Auckland resident I can’t see any advantage in this. Overall Watercare does a good job.

      • This is the same National Party that sold 49% of our hydro assets which were used to create a $400m irrigation slush fund for dairy intensification? That National Party – the party of selling state assets – that National Party? ACT certainly will sell it

      • you can’t trust nats as far as you can spit them, they can write a pledge in their own blood and it would be meaningless, they are proponents of the old failed chicago school of economic voodoo, a main plank of that particular belief system is ‘privatise public assets at all costs’ it’s an ideological precept for them and their assurances may come in handy as alternative to bog paper if you get covid

      • The whole thing, this three waters, is based and being promoted with lies. The green water coming out of taps in the TV propaganda cartoon?
        New Zealand has the second equal highest standard of drinking water in the world.
        So what is the agenda? Why the 50% control to tribal elites?
        Ignoring the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” rule and replacing it with “if it ain’t broke, fix it till it is” perhaps.

        • David the agenda is He Puapua, which as we all know is supposedly just a discussion document. It’s not about water quality.

          • So, you didn’t see those govt tv ads for it then?

            Talking in some sort of piggy-english, all about how we really don’t want “bad water” any more.

            Their SOLE sales pitch at the time.

  2. It’s a nail in Labours coffin!
    If 3 waters is brought into law, it will be a different beast to what was initially being proposed…’watered down’ indeed!

    NOTE: It’s already been deferred and put on back burner, the internal polling/focus groups must have scared the beejeezus out of St Jacinda.

  3. Borrowing a bunch of money and paying interest on that money to buy something we already own makes no sense. This is an asset grab and a blueprint for privatization. There is NO guarantee written into 3 waters that an Iwi corporation ( aka a capitalist business) will not bottle and sell water. There is also no evidence local councils cannot manage their water assets. Indeed the opposite is true. ( despite the supreme incompetence of the Wellington Council)Do your homework Bomber and stop airing your prejudices your blinkers are fastened too tight.

    • I hear your take bomber vesting water with maori can stop privatisation to say a french water conglomerate BUT in practise it will be like the Sealord deal, Maori will lease out their water “quota” to one capitalist or another who will extract oligopolistic super profit from the working class. What meaningful difference does this kind of water sovereignity make to Joe Bloggs and family. You have set yourself against cooperative semi-democratic local ownership of water. Remind yourself what happened to the other family silver, telecom, steel, bnz, postbank, electricity ditribution all forced through the State Owned Enterprise model. To be clear the model is, remove democratic ownership, privatise at a firesale price, load up with debt and charge super high consumer prices til kingdom come. Would you accept a wager that 3 Waters will result in higher consumer prices?

    • Crap.
      With dysfunctional councils and water infrastructure falling apart nationwide through insufficient cash to do the job three water has to happen. Even Christchurch city can’t afford to fix our water infrastructure in under 50 years it is so screwed.

      • Oh yes? Why does 50% transfer of control to iwi have to happen? Are iwi going to provide the cash that you seem to think is lacking?

    • You still dont get what being xSxEx is do ya? Just ’cause you did rehab, doesn’t make you straight edge, ya bigot.

  4. When 60 out of 67 councils are against it the result will be hard to win . Many of these are Labour leaning councils with ex Labour MPS as leaders . In the local Chch paper there has not been many letters in favor of the move and with elections just around the corner the people will be listened too

    • it does have to be said potable water is the no1, first, immediate task…no working parties, no scoping exercise..trust the science in this case the water engineers..is THE priority whoever runs it.

  5. The further neo liberal Capitalism continues to slide towards its inexorable demise, the more politicians will want to sell off the silver to preserve it. And the only thing standing in their way is The Treaty of Waitangi.
    Tihei Mauri ora.

  6. If the govt proposed something similar irt AO/NZ music, eg, … would your response be the same?

    Some things cannot be divided up or “owned” or “managed” in that way – Never, ever.

    Our water is one of those things.

    “Three waters” is NOT, NOT, NOT the way to deal with this!!!!!!!

  7. If we had had 3 Waters before the Havelock North fiasco it would NOT have made any difference. The local Council was remiss and the problem has been sorted. A remote board of directors working through a local entity could have made the same error.
    There have already been changes to the governing model from 12 representatives (half Iwi and half council) per area of up to 22 councils. Now that area is proposed to have 22 plus 22 representatives on the committee. The thought of being on a committee of 44 people makes me shudder. So yes it’s being watered down and not for the better. Agree with Sabine and Shona.

    • the fact that officials are truth and responsability averse is a bureaucratic culture issue, it needs to be fixed but has little bearing on this issue..sack em all with no pension ‘pour encorages les autres’ might smarten their ideas up…
      I agree iwi ownership is NOT nationalisation and there in lies the rub a brown capitalist is as bad as any other, it needs to be properly nationalised.

      let’s not repeat the usual NZ mantra of…

  8. It was a dumb as fuck sell-in strategy. If it had focused on the state of the facilities and the need for it to happen, as opposed to focussing on how it’s governed, it would be a no-brainer. But everything these days, even the smallest project, is all about how it’s governed rather the practicality of such project. Had it never mentioned word ‘iwi’ then the whole thing would be done and dusted and on it’s way. Of course that stupid, offensive, patronising, banal, child like cartoon, fear-mongering, badly executed and total misrepresentation of an ad campaign didn’t help either. Made it look like all, yes all of NZ is drinking poo everyday, ey. What a lie, ey. Stink ey! Hey Govt, we don’t like being lied to, ey!

  9. Public water. How could we be sure that any of the polly parties wouldn’t fall for the business knows best line. Now that Labour has shown its shallow hold on its loyalty to the people and its changeable priorities, and National has shown us more than we want to see, and Greens would be concerned about what we call water, wai or whatever, I don’t trust any of them.

    • AND THEY NEED A LIFE SENTENCE but that ain’t gonna happen is it BECAUSE it calls the whole ‘cheapest option’ capitalist model into question…changing supply source to the polluted flint river was the cost effective business driven model….that went well.
      The subsiquent deliberate lies, evasion and arse covering goes once again to the deep moral decay in ALL neo-lib bureaucracies

        • examples please…feel free to cite the shit soup they call water in the UK, now if your talking SOCIAL DEMOCRACIES you may have a point, capitalism/markets needs to be regulated to deliver for people not just shareholders….who still have to use the water..short sighted isn’t in it.

  10. Doesnt surprise me that NZ farmers will support Israel’s land occupation and brutalising of Palestinians. It helps to normalise their own murky history as occupiers and land thieves who brutalised Maori.

  11. worth mentioning any proposed public/private partnerships to improve infrastructure WILL end in massive public debt and private ownership, just look at the costs of the NHS leasing back hospitals constructed under such schemes they are privatisation by stealth and are purposely intended as such, they have inevitably world wide had the same result..they are designed from the get go to enrich investment companies and their shareholders and not even the largely mythical NZ ‘mom ‘n pop’ shareholders…we only invest in housing

    ….’business solutions’ are always privatise preferably to unaccountable foreign owners…

  12. If three waters doesn’t go ahead, I envisage the usual story at the local body elections – rightwing councilors (accountants, lawyers, CEOs) will promise zero rate rises, sacking staff and stopping projects. Then when they get into power and need to undertake urgent projects there is no funding and the works are deferred for the future. In the central Auckland suburbs Ponsonby, Parnell, Remuera, etc there is combined sewerage and storm-water reticulation. Separation of these “waters” is going to cost billions. Who will pay – the residents of south and west Auckland of course. We need Three waters for national consistency and Crown funding.

  13. somone referred to Scottish water system and I don’t know if it was given detail but this report is refreshingly direct and sounds up to the mark.
    …The restructuring of Scottish Water has resulted in an incremental drift towards privatisation. Firstly through hugely expensive PFI schemes, followed by a broader PPP scheme Scottish Water Solutions. The regulatory structure seeks to replicate the privatised industry in England and Wales with a Water Industry Commission (WIC) committed to market principles.

    The usual vested interests are circling around the guaranteed profits that a regulated privatised industry would bring. The CBI, market think tanks and the right wing press. Of greater concern is the role of the WIC who have advocated moving away from the public model and have used public money to retain commercial lobbyists. The concern is that they are using their regulatory powers to undermine Scottish Water, laying the ground work for privatisation…

    The Trojan horse for privatisation is mutualisation. In the capital intensive water industry any mutual body would in effect be controlled by the financial institutions.They would insist that to minimise risk to their money, services and jobs would be transferred to English and European private water companies.This is what happens at the only UK mutual model,Welsh Water. Not surprisingly the Conservatives recognise the benefits of this stealth privatisation. More disappointing is that the Liberal Democrats have recently joined them.

    This interesting about Welsh Water system. Ut became just another business to add to the strength of the involved companies. Water and utilities are too important to just be part of a portfolio of some investor, sort of the class system expanded don’t you think

    Welsh Water Authority was privatised by stock market flotation in 1989, along with the other nine regional water authorities, which provided the company with a substantial cash surplus for some years, which it used to diversify in a wide range of sectors including leisure (Hotels, Fishing etc.). It renamed itself Hyder in 1996 after taking over a local electricity company (SWALEC) and becoming a water and electricity multi-utility.

    If the water control was left to Maori primarily, they would be affected by the truism about power; ‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely’. We must have an agreement that is co-operative with combined parties from the broad public; practical, perhaps a not-for-profit trust that has expertise and has a rota of movement of the Board of one every two years or something.

  14. Step One to caring about our water systems and supply would be to END, permanently – as in for all time, – any sales of our underground aquifers! Not just “no more”, but END them.

    We don’t sell our people’s organs, we don’t sell our kidneys, eg, to overseas corporations or nations. END the sale of our aquifers, – These belong to the land of Aotearoa and cannot be sold.

    Genuine concern for our water supply and systems would begin right there.

  15. Step Two in showing they actually gave a damn about the state of our water would be to significantly increase the fines for pollution of any body of water.

    Pig faeces and carcasses were allowed to rot into a stream feeding Lake Rotorua, a sacred lake, – Tapu.

    Wet bus ticket fine of $27k. Two days ago. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/rotorua-company-fined-27k-for-allowing-pig-effluent-carcasses-to-flow-into-lake-rotorua/JHHYCDJAJXZPXM6RXPZMPDZ2TE/ (Photo at news link)

    No one gives a damn.
    “Three waters would solve it” – absolute BS!!!!

  16. you are kheala, as long as the kiwi way is a slap with a wet bus ticket nothing will change…

    funny isn’t it, a criminal is punished to discourage the offending behavior in the future…polluters get a stiff talking to and a sit on the naughty step.

  17. So why is this issue on water the problem that it is again?
    It’s run by councils.
    Will the government fix the issue? Don’t know but it’s worth a go given it’s failure by councils.

    • Sure,Bert, but they are doing the OPPOSITE of that. INSTEAD of tackling it full on as the problem it is, instead of facing it and even starting to deal with it, they’re shafting it!! – They’re putting it into the hands of a very few pen-pushers, so that NO-ONE will ever be held responsible when it all falls apart. The govt can wash their hands of it, in the polluted water, and say “It’s not us! – It’s them!.” It’s a pass-the-buck trick, sleight of hand.

    • And don’t expect the Nats/ Act to genuinely call them out on it, – for them it’s a dream! – They could not have put it together better, for their own future profiteering, – all the “take”, none of the responsibility. And it doesn’t matter what “promises” are made about “not ever privatising” … Of COURSE they will. Nothing will stop it. Nothing. …Under the proposed set-up. And it is a set-up, in every sense of the word.

      The Nacts may say all the right “Bad, bad, baaaad” words before they get into power, which they will again eventually, but once their, it theirs for the taking. The structure is ready and waiting.

    • If they were genuine about concern for our nation’s water problems, and if we did not have Omicron on Delta on C-19 taking up all of their time and energy and resources, … then they would declare a water emergency and start DOING something about it, – just getting stuck in and doing it.

      …Sorting out the sewage and effluent probs, the intractible pen-pusher agenda-driven councils, the companies such as at Tiwai Point that stack their thousands of litres of toxins where it can leach into the soil or wash into the land and around the coast. They’d sort out the rubbish tips across the land – all those places that poison the water eventually. They’d END the use of that carcinogen Roundup – completely – Some councils have sprayed around their own water supplies with that poison.

      IF THEY WERE GENUINE in their concern…

      • indeed there a few issues in this country that we need a ‘wartime footing’ approach to…list the usual suspects y’selves.

  18. Comments above are often decrying the perceived cost increases for water.
    But that is not main concern – not even one of them.

    Losing access to your own community’s local water supply, or reduced access, would be a major concern in the future that we all face. Major bushfires, and floods – both have to be dealt with at a local level. Those faraway office-bots are not the people who will be there, boots on the ground, putting in the long hours of helping that community survive the bushfire, or the flood, etc. They’re not the one’s trying to fill the firemen’s hoses as the flames burn through the bush and raze the town.

    There would also come a day when someone in that distant office, having been spoken to and palms greased by a mega-corp rep, says, “We’re putting in a BIG DAM just above where you lot live. Don’t like it? Gotta larf.”
    Or, they may not even warn you. Just start excavating, with “public access denied”.

  19. sorry kahela we need to do some stuff and that entails some people losing out, they did with the hydro dams..where would we be without them now…and frankly local control has led to the cow shit soup we laughingly call rivers….and yup central control is fraught with severe danger but we need action.

    • Sorry mate but yours is the response of the usual, being “Baaaa, baaaaa, baaaaa”.

      I don’t mean to insult, but the problem is so much deeper and more serious, and the consequences so much more devastating for our future… I cannot just go, “Oh, ok. Sure. Baa.. baa.. bleat.. bleat” in response to what is looming.

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