Waatea News Column: So what actually happens if 3 Waters gets scrapped?


National and ACT are currently soaring in the opinion polls on a wave of post covid anger and ‘Māori privilege’ angst, both have promised to scrap 3 Waters if they win a majority in the next election, so what would actually happen if National/ACT see their dog whistle through?

Māoridom were forced into seeking Waitangi Tribunal resolution in 2012 over the issue of Māori water rights because John Key sold 49% of the Hydro water assets alongside taxpayer funded sweeteners. The moment National put a value to water, Māori interests were immediately triggered, and the Waitangi Tribunal ruled that Māori did have water interests and it was up to the State to lay those interests out and protect them.

Labour’s 3 Waters proposal is their attempt at laying those Māori water interests out and protecting them by using the very co-governance model that ACT and National were the original architects of.

To now have ACT and National play the race baiting card over a model they themselves built to solve a privatization of hydro assets they sold is just an audacity beyond words.

So what actually happens if National and ACT scrap 3 Waters? I would imagine Māoridom would immediately go back to the Waitangi Tribunal lodging complaints that the State have once again betrayed their Treaty obligations over water, the Tribunal would be highly likely to rule in Māoridom’s favour and Christopher Luxon will be forced into the Helen Clark position of overruling the Court by passing legislation to seize water off Māori the way Helen did with the Foreshore and Seabed.

That would ignite a terrible and righteous anger within Māoridom.

National and ACT should be very careful in what they wish for.

First published on Waatea News.

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  1. More importantly what happens to the failing infrastructure if 3 waters is dropped? Who then funds the repairs? Will Act and National have an alternative policy? We know they fix nothing so most likely they will leave it to the Local Authorities, funded through rates to the tune of 180 billion. So nothing will get fixed.
    Why worry about who co-governs the oxidation ponds.
    Please step up engineers, project planners, financial planners- and other useful people.

    • Black Rock Inc? When there’s a Fire Sale of valuable assets on the block. The vulture capitalists are only a few clicks of a mouse away from scoring a deal.

      So, who’ll become the NZ broker for those kinds of deals? Fire Sale NZ Inc?
      Panuku Auckland council is well-positioned to play a role in those types of transactions with access to the NZ Super fund which Blackrock Inc does as well.

    • I’m a retired engineer consultant who has worked on several waste water projects in NZ. My thoughts:
      Firstly, there’s no real need for all 3 waters. If I recall the numbers correctly, 97% of drinking water consumed in NZ is already on spec and it’s a fairly trivial task to sort out the remaining 3%. So we can delete drinking water from the scope.
      Next is storm water. This is so intimately tied up with all development projects: roads, houses, landscaping etc that it’s virtually impossible to separate it from the projects themselves. By its very nature it really doesn’t suit restructuring. So delete that ‘water’ from the scope too.
      The real issue is sewerage and sewage treatment. It’s a specialised area that requires external resources in the case of small councils. It’s been poorly managed and underfunded for decades. Many councils would sooner spend rates on wind wands and ‘bucket fountains’ instead of focusing on core services. Auckland Council has been no different but in recent years it has at long last got its act together and is investing the necessary billions to sort it all out: Auckland should thus also be excluded from the scope.
      I think a more pragmatic solution would be to provide an auditing and technical support service to local government with the power to redirect expenditure if that council is profligate. Finance is outside my realm but Capital could be raised by a government bond issuance but the interest on that should be sheeted back to the councils spending the money: no way should we let them off the hook. If it turns out that some local government bodies are simply incompetent through lack of scale maybe amalgamation or central government stewardship is the way to go.

      • This agrees with my understanding of the problem; it’s been councillors that have have caused this, not the Councils themselves.

        I would like some external legal accountability on councillors individually and personally for under-investing in water infrastructure. It’s too easy for them to say “no rate increases for water services”, and leave the problem until after they have retired.

      • This agrees with my understanding of the problem; it’s been councillors that have have caused this, not the Councils themselves.

        I would like some external legal accountability on councillors individually and personally for under-investing in water infrastructure. It’s too easy for them to say “no rate increases for water services”, and leave the problem until after they have retired.

      • Thank you Andrew for you interesting comments…Nice to have an engineer giving an opinion on a civil engineering topic we all use at some stage….Sometimes it’s hard to understand the reasons behind some topics….Political views , Racial perspective’s and armchair experts can sometimes make an issue cloudy….

  2. That’s the problem in general isn’t it. Voices like Chris Finlayson’s are now gone from the National party so they now pretend co governance is some sort of well thought out evil labour master plan, despite everyone pointing out Labour have no plan because they never thought they would win.

    • ACT is just a racist party pure and simple. Seymour wants to immediately disestablish Matariki day as a public holiday as he believes it’s separatist and impacts on busines and staff costs.
      If that’s the case why not disestablish Easter, Xmas day, as they are separatist to religious groups and impact on all business.

        • He’s as much a Maori as you are intelligent. Tell me why he wants the Maori party out of parliament?
          He states he believes in everyone is equal but separates out educational opportunities whilst separating out privatization at the expense of public opportunities. Yes he believes in his own superiority above all else. If you don’t believe that, hear his interviews for 5 seconds. Tell me why he debated to shut down the Maori parties ability to respond to the PMs budget address if it wasn’t about race?

  3. There is nothing wrong with having large independent multi-region entities owning and managing the water systems. After all, no-one in their right mind would trust local government councillors to properly manage anything that important but unglamorous. Not if they knew anything about the current state of the water infrastructure.

    The political rubbing point is the apparent transfer of 50% of ownership of current rate-payer’s assets and 50% of the future entities to the elite members of a minority group.

    How can the ownership of those entities get structured in a way that doesn’t offend non-Māori and those non-elite members of Maoridom? That is the key question.

      • The Nat/ACT government will have to deal with the ‘terrible and righteous anger within Māoridom.’ They would be happy to do that rather than not have to deal with it because they are not the government.

  4. The problem is your confusing two issues, which perhaps shouldn’t be commercially, legally or morally conjoined.

    1. Maori rights to water & for one segment/race within NZ to profit from it.
    2. Central Govts ability to do a better job maintaining water assets.

    In respect to co-governance between Maori and state, I’m personally not for or against.
    However with respect to central government running national water infrastructure. And overall doing a better job than smaller agile local departments with adequate funding. Ahahhahahhahhahahahhahahahhahahhahahahahahahahahahhhahahhahahhahahahhahahahhahahhahahahhhhhhhhahahhhh. My stomach hurts hahahahahhahahahahahahahhahhahahhahahahahhahahahhahahahahhahahhahahahhahahahhahhaha. Fuck, I can hardly take it.ahahahahahh. Oh god that’s funny.

    1. Those muppets have zero credibility on delivery.
    2. And if it’s about money. Let me spell out a couple of very simple facts. It’s not their fucking money, it’s outs the taxpayer. Paying/bribing councils to role over and “sell” these water assets at a fraction of their true value. Is not a good use of our taxes.
    Just think about it. They’re going to spend billions of dollars buying (bribing; although in Goff’s case it was a diplomatic posting which turned the yellow bastard) these water assets. That’s our money, our taxes which could pay for hospitals, healthcare workers, more money to pharmac, mental health, etc. and with all these billions spent, ZERO has happened.
    Then this bunch of misfit super achievers, are going to then spend billions more fixing all these so called problems. You know the dire state of our waters……

    Why not show us a comprehensive study of the issues we face, and where. Ranked from most critical to least.
    Along with Iwi prioritise the work based or the critical nature of the issues. Budget a 1, 5 and 10 year infrastructure spend,
    Take just a fraction of the money they would spend on bribing councils and buying something they don’t need to, and hand over money to the appropriate authorities to make good these assets.
    Strengthen laws and police them so polluters face the full wrath of the Taniwha when the pollute our rivers and sea.
    Oh, and here’s a really novel idea. Instead of allowing councils to discourage private enterprise from trying to do the right thing by harvesting rain water and using it instead of council water assets. Encourage it.

  5. I love the rabid weakness of Martyn’s argument.

    ‘Let’s continue an undemocratic, elitist, unnecessary, poisoned chalice of a policy because if it was repealed then the undemocratic, elitist identikits pushing it through would be very unhappy and their friends in a undemocratic, ideologically-soaked institution would agree’.

    And in jeebus’s holy name, maybe we should pursue a whole re-examination of the underpinning of the Waitangi Tribunal if it operates now simply to automatically approve of whatsoever grievance is raised by Maori. That’s not a tribunal, that’s a rubber stamp; a kangaroo court of ethno-tribalism.

    Here is the reality: Maoridom is now on a rabid pursual of a policy of revanchism mixed with a giant dose of faulty critical social justice dross. It is not remotely connected with real justice.

    I say this as someone who would strongly defend Treaty claims and the Waitangi Tribunal to my family for many years. Not anymore; it is a never-satisfied cauldron of undemocratic, revisionist racialism.

      • This what will happen if do nothin NATZ get in, they will scrap 3 waters and yes do nothing as usual.
        Then useless Mayoral and councilor candidates will be seeking 0-5% rate rises and dwell on the greed of human nature of voters. Then they’ll kick the can down the road.
        Whos going to pay for the separation of our sewer and stormwater mains in Ponsonby, Remuera, Herne Bay, Auckland CBD and other outer suburbs – the South and West Auckland ratepayers will of course.

    • Except the public land and water assets are part of the taonga of the indigenous people. The iwi compensation for loss of land into private ownership is one thing and their involvement as partners in management of the public assets reflects our bi-cultural identity and is in accord with our UN commitments. And it was a National government that accepted we had those commitments.

      • Agree especially those with more woke urban councils. Always into nice to haves and not into substance. Yes Wellington we are looking at you.

      • There is some right wing constitutional law guy doing the rounds here (very well regarded Andrew someone?) and to quote his review of He Pua Pua. The UN declaration on Indigenous rights does not carry any particular legal weight. Far less than a Treaty and less than most National Laws. We can simply say no we are not going to enact this at this stage with no substantive repercussions.

        So if we wanted to, we could walk back He Pua Pua at anytime regardless of whoever signed up to it. Tribalists are giving it a weight it doesnt have and He PuaPua in all likelihood is in opposition to the true Maori version of the ToW (According to venerable Maori scholars).

        This isnt to say that Maori issues dont need to be dealt with urgently but He Pua Pua is not the way.

      • bet the foreign interests that end up buying privatised water will respect moari taonga
        yea dream on…the iwiocracy will make a packet and most maori will be lucky to get a free t-shirt.

    • 100% agree. But also Martyn seem to have missed Anne Salmons 5? part writing on the Treaty which underlines that the west brought a new paradigm to Maori which was culturally opposed to the native one Then along comes various interpretations like Palmers and even He PuaPua that attempt to solve a Maori issue using a western paradigm which leads even further away from what was intended.

      Salmon convincingly argues that New Zealanders are all the same and that in Maoridom the Treaty was a chiefly gift. That it was about how we are an interwoven cloak of our relationships and all our heritage and our relationship to the natural world. That current approaches to co governance whilst well meaning are actually adding to division. That we need to get back to being all the people of New Zealand with equal rights but a focus on our interconnectedness and community. No more Iwi vs Kiwi, just people who care for each other and want things to improve for those most in need.

      Which I must admit was a place I thought we were finally getting close to before Ardern started all this divisive crap.

  6. There are two separate issues that 3 Waters tries to address.

    Firstly is infrastructure and that one is easily solved trough the creation of an state funded infrastructure bank. Any piece of infrastructure (roads, water reticulation, rail line, power station, electricity grid upgrade, etc.) that needs money simply goes to the infrastructure bank for funding. The state is in the all powerful position to access funding as a collective at the cheapest rates on the world wide bond market. Heck if you really want, China will build it for “free” (strings attached).

    Secondly is the governance of 3 Waters. And yes Maori will continue to be aggrieved when National kicks the proposal to touch. And yes that “would ignite a terrible and righteous anger within Māoridom”.

    For 86% of the population that is situation normal. And for the 14% Maori it only adds to the anger.

    It will open up deeper questions in what the resolution can be, for co governance simply will not work in a one person one vote democracy. And yes it is the tyranny of the majority over the tyranny of the minority.

    How than to appease Maori? There is no answer to appeasement. Maori will be forever in a state of anger. Nothing can appease the anger.

    So we will continue the status quo. Until such time all people born in New Zealand are considered “born of this land” with equal attachment to said land. And the only indigenous people recognized are Ngapuhi who were the first to land in New Zealand under Kupe leadership.

      • So Maori should be given supreme power over pipes, dams and reservoirs that they didn’t build and in 1840 couldn’t have conceived of?

    • Will exactly 14% be angry? Or will it be a tiny tiny proportion of that 14% who are pushing the lucrative agenda? I am willing to bet that most kiwis who call themselves maori don’t care too much and just want get on with life…like almost 100% of all New Zealanders…minus the politicians…so make that 99%. Will I lose my bet?

  7. The majority of kiwis and councils have decided they don’t want three waters in its current setup and are overwhelmingly against co-governance. Labour is prepared to lose the election over this issue and if they do Nact will repeal it anyway.

    Why is Labour choosing to die on this hill? Is the Maori caucus truly running things or are Labour members just not aware of the strong opposition moving against this?

    We could have quality infrastructure in our regions if councils got back to looking after core infrastructure before anything else.

  8. Why does any one think local, democratic, community ownership of water assets thats been working well for a hundred years is a bad idea and needs change? Only reason is the money in it for change buraucrats and gravy trainers.

  9. The three waters plan is not about ownership of water or the treaty, it’s the urban drinking, waste and storm water infrastructure. Conflating the issue only serves to muddy the waters (so to speak) and provide cover for the worst kind of ethnic supremacist bullshit.
    Put the plan in the bin and burn it; there is absolutely no valid reason for disproportionate Maori control of urban water.

  10. it’ll be another private faux market like power…and yes here in NZ we might have power cuts THIS WEEK, no investment in infrastructure means shortage equals masssssive profits it’s not that difficult to work out…now a future shortage of potable water welllll…that’s a nice little earner.

    • Correct. This is why councils actively discourage private investment in water recovery and use.
      I’ve just built one of the greenest privately owned commercial buildings in NZ, and the barriers council put in place is staggering.
      There is only one conclusion I could see. They can’t charge you for using and disposing of water you collect.

      • mick your personal actions are not the point..
        .the failure to invest is the issue, private equity doesn’t help any public service because the investors want return on capital which adds massive costs higher than had the project been carried out by govt/local authorities in the first place.
        basically you insert a middle man and they want their cut.

  11. Gerrit you need to learn the proper history and stop making up bullshit to justify your bullshit shallow argument there were people already here before Kupe and before the fleet of waka came. I am a descendant of Kupe (Ngati Hei) but my grandmothers people from the east coast were her before Kupe and so were many others. And there in lies the problem when people like you make up stuff. As for the other tosser on this site talking about water do you homework not all Maori are angry all the time, pissed of maybe cause we have to read such utter bullshit all the time.

    • Touched a nerve?. Perhaps you could write a definitive and concise history lesson that follows the true time line of New Zealand settlement.

      I can only go by the official New Zealand history; for example


      “Kupe is an important ancestor to the Maori people, and in many but not all iwi narratives he is accredited with being the first Polynesian to discover the islands of Aotearoa New Zealand. There are numerous stories, songs and places associated with Kupe, and though they vary by iwi, all are significant to those who hold them.”
      “The arrival of Kupe to Aotearoa is an important event for Maori, and he represents the whakapapa or a genealogical anchor and an ongoing relationship to the whenua or land. Kupe therefore is a prominent ancestor in the whakapapa or genealogies of many iwi and great effort is made to cite an association with him. This is reinforced by the many numerous places named for Kupe, his family and their travels throughout the lands of Aotearoa.”

      So as Tauiwi we can only go by official records and writings. We don’t make stuff up about things we don’t know, but we do read and comprehend “facts” as officially presented.

      Noe there are many many publications that name Kupe as the first New Zealand settler. Please discuss with those authors your interpretation of the “facts” and publish the rebuttal for us Tauiwi to learn from.

      I wait the true facts with bated breath.

    • Bro, kupe first arrived in Aotearoa and in particular Te Whitianga a Kupe about 900AD. He arrived on the backs of whale and birds – ie he followed the migration paths of the whales and birds in the spring. They had noted that the migrating birds must be migrating to a land mass – as they weren’t sea birds but waders. Toi Te Huatahi arrived in Aotearoa and settled at Hui Te Rangiora in Whitianga. The Te Arawa and Tainui waka arrived in Aotearoa about 1200 AD at Whangaparaoa (Bay of whales) near East Cape. Thats the simple explaination.

    • Covid…We really don’t know if people were here in New Zealand before the arrival of Māori…Chances are the sailors of the pacific could have visited or settled for a short time…their knowledge of sailing is well documented and there is no reason why they could of not have been here…rafts or boats could have been blown off course or just the human desire to find new land could have bought people here at any time….Our abundant food sources could of been a summer treat of the adventurous pacific people…..they certainly had the skills to get here….As we really are still learning the facts from fiction of Māori settlement and are finding new and interesting artefacts all the time we must just keep an open mind to people visiting here….I personally think Māori were here long before the main fleet arrived….possibly several hundred years before but our winter’s were too cold….where would you rather winter….In New Zealand or Fiji , Rarotonga ….

  12. Some local council’s have gorged themselves on Rate payer $ and produced substandard results. Which leaves them open to a take over by central government.

    • Agree especially those with more woke urban councils. Always into nice to haves and not into substance. Yes Wellington we are looking at you.

    • they’ve had their perks sure enough marco but a big part of the issue is keeping rates unaturally low to please homeowners and ensure their continued access to perks, but no taxy means no spendy…it’s one reason some parts of america are collapsing(literally)

  13. I agree Marco, if the councils were doing a good job why is our water structure in such a bad way, dirty beaches, ecoli in the water ie Havelock North. This NACT government wants to scrap the new health authority and 3 waters how much wasted money is that .

  14. The main worry I’m sure for everyone in New Zealand with 3 waters disappearing, will be the loss of income for the Ormsby family…perhaps a , give a little , page could be set up by the ACT party in compensation for the loss…..possibly another opportunity will arise at some stage for their skills to be be applied, and to add value to lives of New Zealand’s young and old…

    • Could you explain more how we are a racist lot please Queeny , or Bert….either will do…I always prefer to criticise a wrong doing if I see it as that…the race , creed , religion , pronoun is of little interest to me….and I’m more than happy to praise good deeds…enlighten us please…..

      • No need, you gave us “your definition” of who was here first.

        “As long as Willie Jacksons Kings College cheque dosen’t bounce then ‘Maoridom’ will be happy!!!?”

        Is this not based on Willies race, “Maoridom” etc.

  15. My first comment seems to be lost in the post…I will try again….Bert…by saying early Polynesian mariner’s could have sailed to New Zealand and visited , temporarily settled , before the Māori Fleet arrived, is racist….Is that what you are saying Bert…???


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