Forget Co-governance fear mongering – 3 Waters must protect NZ from water privatisation or be cancelled

Christchurch Water Rally December 2019. Photo credit Ezra Holder

From the beginning for me, 3 Waters needed to do 3 things.

1 – Provide fresh clean water to everyone in NZ.

2 – Ensure water can never be privatised.

3 – Stop foreign company water bottling.

It’s questionable 3 Waters can do the first, it’s moot if it can do the 3rd, yet it seems to ensure water could be privatised!

Queenstown Lakes District councillor, Niki Gladding, has given a brutal assessment of how the technical changes in the legislation are open to an interpretation where our water could be privatised.

I urge the Government’s immediate attention to this.

Because there’s no way we can allow any mechanism that makes potentially privatising our water a possibility!

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In my thinking, we should just Nationalise the Water and see Co-Governance as a brake peddle to any future privatisation.

I don’t see the Co-Governance issue as the great bogeyman that the Right do. I see it as a simple extension of the Waitangi Tribunal ruling into water rights that was sparked by Key selling 49% of our Hydro assets.

That ruling said Māori water rights existed and that it was up to the Crown and Māori to negotiate that.

Using the existing co-governance infrastructure developed by ACT and National, 3 Waters is the expression of that entire process.

If ACT, the Taxpayers Union and National all dog whistle long enough on this and win the election, they’ll cancel 3 Waters which will lead to an immediate challenge in the Waitangi Tribunal where Māoridom will argue they negotiated a deal, as the Court had stated and then the Crown dumped it. The Court will rule in Māoridom;’s favour and Luxon will face his own Helen Clark moment and just try to confiscate the water legally.

This of course will spark one hell of a violent protest response.

So before we get there, how about we get this right and entrench Public ownership around our water. Seize it under the Public Works Act if you need, but just get it done, because we can’t in good faith accept an outcome where privatisation is easier.

Explain the need for co-governance to provide the essential hand break to stop white rich people selling our water off to corporations.


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  1. The only hope for Labour to win, is to get rid of 3 waters,

    the so called hate speech laws (do the opposite, make freedom of speech a priority instead – especially when NZ’s defamation laws are allowing corruption, power imbalance and bullying to workers, to increase here instead),

    get rid of their proposed stupid employment insurance and replace it with compulsory redundancy payments (so the offenders are the ones paying, not the bad employers!)

    and stop pushing in a central management structure instead of solving problems. They just do not work – especially in NZ when neoliberals, seat warmers and poor managers and culture are everywhere.

    Polytech reform not working, Supercity, not working, endless centralisation and task forces, not working!

    Janet Wilson: Polytech merger’s ills a harbinger for Government’s other reforms

    “Several arresting stories this week revealed that Te Pūkenga is in a huge financial hole while failing to deliver, with its leader missing in action.

    Te Pūkenga announced on July 8 that its CEO, Stephen Town, was on “personal leave” for an unspecified timeframe. The term, which has morphed into a crutch of crisis management (think TVNZ’s ham-fisted attempt to cover up the Kamahl Santamaria debacle), has now become a red-flag phrase.

    The fact that Town, who’s paid somewhere north of $670,000 a year, has gone on leave two months after a damning report from the Tertiary Education Commission and just a week before it appeared publicly, may explain why.”

    Centralising 3 Waters will become a money grab for consultants and private practise like all the other centralisation projects, and NOTHING gets done for years while they keep reviewing for months/years what they did previously and why it went wrong. It makes everything less efficient and more prone to be privatised while service and quality goes out the window and we get a major drop in quality and good will towards government!

    Maybe they should get one of their ‘centralisation’ projects going well, before taking another essential service like water and running it into the ground with government selected consultants, while burning as much money as they can before deciding to privatise it (with another name for it, of course).

      • Not if it’s all true, which I bet it is!

        Nobody with a brain would employ Town after his terrible job on the SuperCity, oh but they did with familiar results, endless reports and money tipped down the endless hole of central government management via their appointed neoliberal managers.

        • S Town is a Vulture Capitalists ‘enabler.’
          Look throughout his history….everything he touches is a loss making venture.

          Auckland Councils debt ballooned under him to $12b now!

          • So why put him in charge of the Polytechs – my point is that neoliberalism doesn’t seem to matter if it’s ACT or Labour running the show – they both seem doomed to appoint the same failed policies and managers, again and again.

            That is why centralisation in NZ is so destructive – it really is idiots and enablers getting rich off thin, failed policy, no matter who is in government. Same will happen to health.

            NZ needs to start to put the money into the people because it’s the people who make up the health and education system and do the work. In particular the doctors and nurses and teachers and university lecturers.

            Until they decide they will train and retain experts in these fields especially health care and start to do so, they are throwing both time, money, free health and education and people’s lives away.

            Get rid of the neoliberal manager in charge of universities and courses that are churning out more bad lawyers and business managers that are taking over other fields, instead of a wide, range of diverse and expert skills needed for the future such as doctors and nurses.

            • I get that Maori haveing management rights over water makes you feel a sense of loss and cheated.

              Perhaps Maori can put aside there own 200 year battle over management rights to there resources in order to accommodate your hurt feelings.

              • Could you link exactly who and what ethnicity these citizens are who have profited handsomely off the resource of water. I’m intrigued as to your amazing insightfulness.
                Honestly can say I’ve never attributed resource theft every time I turn the tap on, or had a shower as isnt it’s fundamental human right?

              • It’s a farce that Maori have management rights, read the docs and they don’t, some individuals have rights over the water and can make all decisions. The woke identity for housing doesn’t seem to be working out that well for Maori…. Maori beware, like all other citizens in NZ.

                • I agree Maori can not manage a 300 billion dollar economy alone. Which is why we are going to co governance but the hardest thing is forming trade, security and fiscal alliances with people who lie which is what co governance is y’know and I myself is trying to show leadership I mean flatten the covid curve is nonsense and the government expect us to take the vaccine even though politicians don’t know how it works. We expect the next generation to go to war. This is why governance is a profound responsibility.

  2. As wealth on a global scale is increasingly concentrated in fewer hands the biggest threat to the sovereignty of small poorer nations like ours is foreign control of infrastructure and essential assets.
    The best example of this is still the treasonous sale of our rail network by Richard Prebble. That successive governments have allowed the foreign ownership of our major banks is also deplorable. Now our major communications infrastructure network is being sold. The drive to privatize our water infrastructure is partly from a consortium of Asian banks.
    The common thread is that profit flows overseas into the hands of the already wealthy.

  3. Hi Martyn

    Gladding’s assessment timely and solid stuff. Points that have not been made precisely or loudly enough throughout the debate.

    I still think co-gov is more than a ‘distraction’ though. First, Mahuta has used your issue 1 in a “bait and switch” or “mot and bailey” type justification that is anything but good faith. She may well be concealing the privatisation concerns raised here, or something else. The problem is we don’t know.

    Also, the origins and almost all co-gov bodies come from Treaty settlements or developments very close to them. Those followed specific historic wrongs proved in the WT on something like the rules of evidence.

    With 3W, we have a uniform solution applied to a wrong that has not been so well scoped, where the tikanga plainly differs from place to place, even hapu to hapu. So the justification comes back to the “principles”, which are a contemporary invention of Parliament, and contested in terms of detail and even who is in a position to assert detail.

    None of the similarities and differences with Treaty settlement contexts has been carefully explained by Mahuta. The public can sense that it is expected to welcome 3W the same as settlements, but also that 3W is different to settlements.

    If 3W is rammed through before the case for co-gov made openly, we will therefore risk a key benefit common to all settlements and all New Zealanders – a durable compact from which we can hope to turn to the future.

    3W is it now, then, risks smashing the durability of settlements. A forty year national project, etc etc. Internationally unique etc etc. Kind of something to be proud of, warts and all, etc etc. Not exactly a “distraction”.

  4. Fully agree with you Martyn…various models for privatising water have all failed at risk communities, for example, areas with high poverty…Auckland’s Watercare is a case in point, with members of the South, and West Auckland living in water poverty.

    • They do not need to centralise as this will hasten the ability to privatise – they just need to draft into NZ law that water can not be privatised. Instead of spending money on more and more consultants just have the people on the ground getting the money and have much better planning rules. Too hard, they can just use their magical thinking while everyone else, already knows where 3 Waters is going (already there, massive amount of money already spent on consultants, less rights for consumers and no simple plan to simply make water better by using best practise to stop water pollution and waste).

      People can collect water themselves from their roof, an easy way to making water affordable and in the face of water shortages should be written into the building code – just like re-using grey water for gardens and washing cars.

      The problem with the Labeen government is that they seem to be just emulating NatzACT policy on everything but with more subsidies, that if continued will eventually bankrupt the country.

      The idea for water and power, should be to decentralise, which is pretty easy with solar panels and just a simple gravity tank system for each house.

      In Detroit, city-backed water shut-offs ‘contrary to human rights,’ say UN experts

      Water War in Bolivia and Reverse Privatisation

    • Water Care is entirely publicly owned, and aways has been. The owner is Auckland City Council on behalf of all residents in Auckland. Where is this “water poverty” you claim? It simply does not exist.

  5. It isn’t co-governance. It’s Governance.

    The ‘co’ bit is just sublime for them racists and bigots to get all fired up. Because that’s what is happening!

    Just wait till the neolibtards from the gender possee want a piece of the action! There will have to be an increase in the number of board members because we all know water is a gender diverse commodity right?!

    Wait a minute? I can hear them protesting now! “Water needs a pronoun Now! When do we want it! Now!” ffs!

  6. 3 Waters is another Labour scheme to take all the power under a Wellington umbrella of buracrats controlled by them just like health.
    I live in Chch and if this system becomes in trenched we will not get the chlorine out of our pristine water and they will add floride at a cost of $66 million .
    While most people do not vote on a single issue this power grab is so widly unpopular it could tip the balance . Unfortunately it’s main promoter Mahuta comes across as very arrogant so that does not help matters.

        • Any proof you absolute cabbage or as usual same shit from you different day. Now what are your thoughts on the Maori battalion, were they racist too?
          What about National selling off our electricity companies for privatisation, anything, anything at all?
          You started with horseshit and followed up with a gob full.

        • Bullshit Sour Kraut.

          Many Farmers and Groundswell have existing “irrigation water consents”. They want to be able to convert those ‘irrigation water consents’ into Bottled Water Consents (in the same way that Belfast Freezing Works Consents in Christchurch, were sold off/converted to to Cloud Ocean Water bottling consents).

          That way, when farmers are asked to “cut greenhouse gases”, to offset Climate Change, the farmers can give a two-fingered, or one-fingered salute to a Labour – government, then “FARM” water consents, instead of sheep and cows

          Then farmers can sell water instead of beef and sheep to make a financial killing, instead of their usual, freezing works killing.

          Yes Sour Krout it’s about greed and privatizations. BUT, it’s farmers, the ‘share market owned farms’ and ‘corporate farms who will suddenly morph into “bottled water.” farmers, instead of baa-lamb and moo-cow farmers.

          Why do you think the Farmers were behind the occupation of Parliament Grounds? NOT so they could slide down Trevor Mallard’s playground kiddies’ slide, or listen to Barry Manilow songs.

          Groundswell is/was vehement about privatizing already-in-place-irrigation water consents and missing out if 3 Waters Plugged a Christchurch-COW (Cloud Ocean Water Legalised Water Rape) loophole?

          3 waters gives Kiwis/Aotearoans the social-benefit of Clean Potable Water (without Chlorine), rivers we can swim in and seas where algal bloom doesn’t kill fish, kaimoana and socially responsible water use water is eliminated. Water is a social need and right.

          Decent water is a human right Sour Kraut:

          What are the rights and what do they mean?

          The right to water entitles everyone to have access to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use.

          The right to sanitation entitles everyone to have physical and affordable access to sanitation, in all spheres of life, that is safe, hygienic, secure, and socially and culturally acceptable and that provides privacy and ensures dignity.

          “Sufficient”: The water supply for each person must be sufficient and continuous for personal and domestic uses. These uses ordinarily include drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation, personal and household hygiene.
          “Safe”: The water required for each personal or domestic use must be safe, therefore free from micro-organisms, chemical substances and radiological hazards that constitute a threat to a person’s health. Measures of drinking-water safety are usually defined by national and/or local standards for drinking-water quality.
          “Acceptable”: Water should be of an acceptable colour, odour and taste for each personal or domestic use. All water facilities and services must be culturally appropriate and sensitive to gender, lifecycle and privacy requirements.
          “Physically accessible”: Everyone has the right to a water and sanitation service that is physically accessible within, or in the immediate vicinity of the household, educational institution, workplace or health institution.
          “Affordable”: Water, and water facilities and services, must be affordable for all.

          So – FUCK YOU Sour Kraut. I don’t want you owning my water. I want fair access to water. I don’t want you pissing in my water, before I use it, OR after it is used.

          Privatisation – YES, but when it’s Farmers, or society that wants to control its water, I know who I’d back? I’d back a government to own and administer water. That is until the Chinese, or ACT or National or Farmers own the water!!

          Farmers and business owning water is a disaster.

          The privatization of Water:

          And I wonder which political parties and counties are behind the privatisation of water in Aotearoa?

          ACT National Conservatives NZF TOP Labour Maori Party Greens

          Take your pick of parties, or coalition of parties?

          Take your pick Sour Kraut……

          …. then fuck off back to Germany, or South Africa, or wherever you came from and take your water privatization ideas and shove them
          intra-anally before you get on the plane.

            • On the contrary SK, you first – Auf Wiedersehen or totsiens to you.
              Good guess Sour Unkraut. But, I’m a New Zealander, from Aotearoa. Must irk you racists and your type to hear the Maori name for New Zealand used eh?

              Where the hell is Inkland, verdomde rooinek moron.

              • Agree @ bert Any simple discussion with SK, is like having a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent . Do you think SK was in the ‘cab’ class at school in Germany (or South Africa)? You can see why he is so susceptible to racist ideology, he only has a single, sterile amoebic brain cell. Thanks goodness.

                • He shares that single amoebic brain cell with Bob the cock. Actually I don’t believe the lift goes to the top floor with either of them.

  7. Currently water infrastructure is owned by 67 local councils – that is public ownership. Wrangling 67 councils into selling their secure water assets to multinational water corporations is a difficult task unless an Act government legislates that they have to be privatised. Local councils have efficiently provided clean drinking water to their communities for over 100 years. One council fucked up on quality control thats not a reason to expropriate the assets of the other sixtysix councils from the ratepayers who built them up over the last 100 years. The Mahutas have seen this as an opportunity for a raid on generations of Pakeha ratepayers. Once in maori management operation rights, like fishing quota, will be leased to foreign corporations who will get into the game with borrowed funds. The borrowings and interest and lease payment to maori will all be additional costs over and above the current council operational costs. Water users will pay all over again for the infrastructure they currently own. The whole scam is inflationary, anti-democratic, anti-cooperative ownership and possibly racist. Whats needed is a water quality authority and some funding for infrastructure expansion and renewal. Central government can use its low interest borrowing power to provide funds to councils. Councils could issue local government bonds to fund new water assets but thats a bad idea as it leaves them at risk of becoming over indebted and ‘forced’ to sell to water corporations. While Labour has the majority they need to pass a water rights law and reqire that town water supply must be held in public ownership and that a super majority of an 80% parliamentary vote be reqired to overturn the ‘water is a human right law’ .

  8. I agree with the heading – it’s our water for ever or forget tinkering with the management. Labour is never to be trusted again and Maori can be led astray from their own bright sparks. And Indian would make a whole lot from peddling it to their parched country. And what about cutting back on the present exports that naive but determined NZ pollies have been encouraged to sign to.

  9. The first thing an incoming government should do is shut down the Waitangi Tribunal, immediately followed by constitutional law to guarantee an equal franchise for everyone, regardless of gender, race or religion. Then reverse all the appalling race based legislation the current government has slipped through under the cover of Covid

    • Good idea Andrew you are absolutely right, and we would all expect the ACT and National coalition to make this a bottom line foundational policy commitment. Let’s finally run equality up the constitutional flagpole and see how many Kiwi voters salute. And it can’t come soon enough. Enough of this two-tier racism rammed down our throats,

      • Fabulous stuff to read particularly on the TDB
        Restores my faith not all New Zealanders have been radicalised by Labour Government propaganda

        • But you’re happy to be radicalised by right wing parties, what a knob Bob. I have no faith in idiots N.Z.’s like yourself.

          • Having no faith is fine by me.
            Now Bert given you are an expert what’s the next step in Andrew Littles destruction of the health sector?
            I see over 90% of your colleagues have no faith in him.
            Nurses constantly being berated by Andrew Little.
            On this site being labelled a crisis, catastrophe, carnage.

        • I will donate ACT and National my own Slogan for the 2023 Election.

          “Instead of being kind, let’s be honest and equal.
          Ditch 3 waters and the Maori seats”

          No royalty required. YW.

  10. If 3 Waters goes through, water will be privatised within decade, just like our power.

    In our growing low wage economy and importation of poverty, where people now can’t afford food anymore, water will start to become a cash cow and more expensive. You can already see that 3 Waters is throwing away money on consultants at an alarming rate, and will change the election to Natz and ACT.

    • Only if you vote ACT/National?
      Labour saw what goods ACT had on its wheelbarrow of lies in the 1980’s.

      NACT would sell this off water right in a heartbeat, because “the private sector can run things better than governments”. But first, they’d ‘honour current farming consents’ fir farmers and Chinese Water Bottlers.

      Better to have it in the stable hands of Kaitiaki in Maoridom and government partnership, rather than WAI on the NZX if ACT and National get their way!

  11. Makes me very sad to think NZ has become a low wage food bank society and instead of concentrating on this crisis the Labour Government are off on ideological crusades.

    • True Bob, New Zealand became a low wage economy under 8 years of the Key era and is now having to be supported by a caring, socially responsible and kind Labour government.

      Farmers and businesses are baying for and adamant that cheap immigrants returning are needed – but, cheap immigrants only help to drive down wages in order to make bigger profits for farmers themselves and corporates. More nail salons, more uber drivers and ‘mall massages’ (not the vibrating seats btw.

    • You finally get it! A low wage food bank society because of Bill English and John Key’s low wage economy. What the fuck did you think would happen with the dictatorship National government, wealth would trickle down…bahahahahahaha! You shouldn’t be sad you should be disgusted at the National party with their ideological crusades.

  12. It is important to remember, Martyn, that neither the Waitangi Tribunal, nor the Courts, have the power to overrule Parliament or strike down its legislation. In New Zealand, unlike the USA, Parliament is sovereign. Laws people don’t like can only be amended or repealed by an Act of Parliament.

    It is also important to bear in mind that a present parliamentary cannot bind a future parliamentary majority. Reforms cannot be baked-in, they are always subject to alteration – or even abolition – by future generations.

    So, if Maori do not like National/Act legislation they have two options:

    1. Assemble a parliamentary majority to overturn them.

    2. Start a civil war.

    I know which option I prefer.

  13. Labour tried to include protections against privatisation – but National would not support
    Three waters anti-privatisation entrenchment rejected by opposition parties
    Another protection against privatisation is entrenchment – a requirement for at least 75 percent of MPs in Parliament to support any proposal to merge or sell any of the entities’ assets
    “To some of our political opponents, here’s the time to step up if you believe in public ownership. And we’ve heard certainly from the National Party that they’ve been throughout this process concerned about the loss of ownership in communities, well we’ve dealt with that today thanks to the working group’s recommendations.
    “Now they can step up and say ‘we will agree that these assets won’t be sold

    Asked multiple times if National would support the entrenchment measure if it came to a vote however, he would not directly answer


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