Three Waters becomes Affordable Water

Written By: - Date published: 8:32 am, April 14th, 2023 - 72 comments
Categories: Environment, labour, local government, national, political parties, same old national, water - Tags:

Three Waters mark two has been announced.  Instead of there being four mega entities in charge of the country’s water systems there will be more localised entities based generally on Regional Council boundaries, apart from in Auckland where the originally proposed entity will continue.

And Kieran McAnulty has given a text book example of clarity in political speak when making the announcement.

From Te Ao Maori News:

“These reforms are absolutely essential. Leaving things as they are will mean unaffordable rate bills,” McAnulty said.

“The feedback has been overwhelmingly clear that our water infrastructure deficit needs to be addressed now if we’re to save households from ballooning bills that will make water unaffordable. But also that the reform programme must be led at a regional level – we have listened closely and absolutely agree.”

He says the costs involved in meeting the upgrades needed for water systems are projected to be up to $185 billion over the next 30 years, which local councils cannot afford on their own, and households in some areas could see rates rise up to $9,730 per year by 2054 if nothing is as done.

“The projected costs have been peer-reviewed by both Farrierswier Consulting (an Australian regulatory economic specialist) and Beca (an international engineering firm) and make for pretty grim reading. Leaving councils to deal with this themselves will lead to unaffordable rate rises. It would be setting councils up to fail and I can’t in good conscience do that,” he says.

McAnulty says establishing 10 entities is projected to save households between $2,770 and $5,400 a year by 2054 on average within each region.

“By extending the number of publicly owned water entities to 10, every district council in the country will have a say and representation over their local water services entities through regional representative groups, forming a partnership between council representatives and iwi/Māori that will provide strategic oversight and direction to the entities.

“These groups will continue to sit below the governance board, in which each member will be appointed on merit and qualification but, by increasing the number of entities we will be able to ensure the needs of every community, especially small rural towns, are heard and met.

Tory mayors throughout the country continue to be unimpressed, colour me surprised.  You can tell they are tories through the use of overblown rhetoric, by their insistence that their locally produced figures are correct and the Government’s figures are wrong, and by their complete indifference to the plight of neighbouring local authorities which may be struggling.

And National and Act are, surprise surprise, also unimpressed with the changes.

Simon Watts was on Radio New Zealand this morning and kept claiming that the program was untested.  Which is weird because it relies heavily on the Scottish Water model which has been in place for 20 years and has been shown to work.  And the concept is relatively simple, set up entities that can borrow at prime rates and have sufficient scale to operate economically, give it guidance through regional representative groups, and let the entities get on with it.

And National’s alternative proposal contains scant detail.  As I said previously:

The policy looks suspiciously like Three Waters.  There will be regional groupings but these will be voluntary.  Councils will be required to adhere to centrally set infrastructure plans.  National will facilitate long term borrowing.

This will mean that the cost will appear on local council’s balance sheets.  Some councils have been really risk adverse to borrowing.  For instance Auckland Council has persuaded itself that it’s debt cannot be more than 270% of income as the sky will otherwise fall down.  Conceivably it will have to invest $60 billion in water infrastructure over the next thirty years.  This will increase dramatically its current debt of $11 billion and blow the borrowing cap.

Instead of water entities handling long term investment decisions these will be determined by the Minister. Local control over long term strategy will be diminished under National’s plan.

The proposal feels similar to Three Waters but with increased central control and no idea how the borrowing will work or the infrastructure plans will be formulated.

The policy is a grudging acknowledgement that the status quo, which has seen faeces flow into Wellington Harbour, people poisoned and killed and pipes fall apart from old age and lack of maintenance, is no longer an option.

Interestingly Labour’s change to regional groupings makes the policies closer.  And National’s alternative is strong on central control and weak on detail.

The debate is one big wall of noise.  The problem is clear as is the solution.

It is good to see McAnulty front footing this.  He has the twin virtues of being very clear in the way that he expresses himself and he has that rustic charm which tends to dispel angry responses, unless they are feigned.

How this debate shakes down will have a major effect on the election.  But the starting point should be clear.  The status quo when it comes to water is unsustainable.

72 comments on “Three Waters becomes Affordable Water ”

  1. mickysavage 1

    Here is film of McAnulty absolutely nailing it.

  2. Liberty Belle 2

    Which is weird because it relies heavily on the Scottish Water model which has been in place for 20 years and has been shown to work.


    The number of recorded sewage spills in Scotland's rivers and seas has increased by 40% over the last five years, new figures show.

    2022 has brought a series of water scarcity warnings from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency,

    Recently SEPA reported that the number of waterways classified as “bad” had doubled. Amongst the Scottish rivers with a water quality rated as bad or poor were the Almond, Carron, Dee, Don, Earn, Esk, Kelvin, Lossie, Nairn, Nith, Spey, Tay, Tummel, and Water of Leith.

    Failures in the Scottish Water system impact most heavily in urban areas. For instance, between May and June 2016, a blockage caused a mechanical failure at the Scottish Water’s Kinning Park wastewater station. The smell proved so bad that local people were unable to open their windows.

    Using Scotland as a model for solving NZ's own infrastructure challenges was always a strange decision anyway.

    [You were on your final warning ( only a few days ago yet you keep dumping large numbers of hidden (embedded) links masquerading as quotes. I count 6 links, no less, with not one URL to be seen. One link is to a collection of rather long Annual Reports without any further guidance as to which report, which page, which section, which paragraph, et cetera. Obviously, you expect us to fall into this trap of yours and read all the material you provided. This is a known troll tactic and idiosyncratic behaviour of yours, i.e. a pattern, and the fact that you disrespect Mod notes and waste Moderator time tells me that you need to take some time off. See you in a week or so – Incognito]

    • Res Publica 2.1

      Using Scotland as a model for solving NZ's own infrastructure challenges was always a strange decision anyway.

      We do have a weird habit of importing public service models, theories of organisation, and even managers from the UK. Then wondering why they don't work.

      It's the worst kind of cultural cringe: Rather than forge a New Zealand solution to New Zealand problems, we simply copy what the rest of the world did 10 years ago.

      • mickysavage 2.1.1

        Ours is a uniquely local solution. That is why the Regional Representative Groups are there.

    • Incognito 2.2

      Mod note

    • mickysavage 2.3

      Hmmm …

      In Havelock North recently we have had water systems kill four people and poison 5,000 others, in Wellington sewer pipes regularly collapse and drain raw sewerage into the harbour, in Auckland we still pump raw sewerage into the Waitemata Harbour, many of our waterways are unswimmable and in Otago there was lead contamination in the water but in Scotland they have waterway problems and a bad smell. And you think our situation is better?

      • gsays 2.3.1

        In regards to the Havelock deaths, do you or anyone know if there is any ongoing enquiry or investigation into the accountability?

        • Ad

          They changed the entire legislative and regulatory framework as a result of an inquiry. Anything else?

          • gsays

            So, no to accountability.

            All the new rules and regulatory frameworks in the world will not make a difference of they aren't enforced.

    • AncientGeek 2.4

      Testing leaving a reply with the new theme.

      Personally, I think that 'Liberty Belle' is simply too stupid to be capable of reform.

      I particularly don't like the 'quote' covered links being used to promote SEO – which is what this looks like to me. If I see it again whilst in my more usual login (lprent), I will ban Liberty Belle or anyone other idiot doing it permanently and with malice aforethought.

      1. Didn’t place the reply box at the expected indent.
      2. Layout of the login fields was appalling.
      3. The edit timer – seems short
      Apart from that it wasn’t too bad.

      • Incognito 2.4.1

        Just seen your comment, after I put the ban in the Moderation Post 2023 in the back-end.

        This commenter has form & history and keeps wasting people’s time, including that of this Mod.

  3. I listened to him last night on checkpoint and he made the definition of political clarity and dont mess with me with your silly little tricks. this is serious and important and far above media nonsense purveyed by the broadcasters as news.

    • Agree…McAnulty may have the weirdest name to spell but he was extremely clear on Morning Report today and I liked the way he attacked the Nats for not costing their own water proposals when criticising Labour's.

  4. tsmithfield 4

    There is absolutely no reason why councils would right now sign up to this new iteration of 3 Waters.

    With the election this close, I suspect most will just keep their cards close to their chests until after the election. Because, if there is a change of government, they might get something they like more.

    • Poldark 4.1

      "if there is a change of government,they might get something they like more."

      Can't see it in Te Touihu. Here in Tasman a real clusterf**k decision was made with the previous mayor's casting vote to go ahead with a dam now costing $200m built on a fault line and on top of weak rock. And then according to an an expert acquaintance it may not even achieve what its proponents hope and in the meantime further the division between urban and rural. Most locals did not like the idea of being tied to Wellington and the East coast under the old 3 waters proposal and are indifferent about co-governance, though the Nelson mayor unlike his open minded predecessor is being a 19th century dick about it.

    • Craig H 4.2

      Depends on the Council. Auckland already did this via Watercare so the Council could argue it doesn't really gain anything by this proposal instead of status quo (although the cost savings look high anyway, presumably because of Northland). On the other hand, Taranaki looks like it will do much better from this compared to status quo.

    • "No reason to sign up"????

      Strange take. I think Ratepayers will be asking their Councils to sign up once they realise the impact on their pockets.

      "I expect most will keep their cards close to their chests", does this mean local and regional councils? Again their voters might send strong signals at meetings about how they plan to avoid future costs….. would it be the usual ignore and delay again??

  5. ianmac 5

    Marlborough will pay 50% less than with the status quo. That is $3,400 pa less. (3Waters would have been 80% less.)

    The vanity of our District Council is costing us more. If the Council published the actual cash savings instead of hiding behind amorphous concerns like Co-governance, maybe the ratepayers might sit up and notice. Folk I have spoken to know little about what the issue is. Bad communications from the Government but serious breech of our Council. Of course the Council might be protecting the Opposition's interests? Surely not!

    • tsmithfield 5.1

      Marlborough will pay 50% less than with the status quo. That is $3,400 pa less. (3Waters would have been 80% less.)

      Really? For savings of that size, rate payers from other cities would need to be subsidising Malborough a lot. If there is going to be that much money shifting around, then it effectively becomes another tax.

      • SPC 5.1.1

        All ratepayers are forecast to pay less with the 10 entity model than now.

        Comparisons – status quo, 4 entity and 10 entity are shown here

      • ianmac 5.1.2

        TS: I am just referencing the table above from Clint Smith.

        • tsmithfield

          Yes. Well I would be very interested to see the assumptions that underly that chart.

          It looks to be in the category of "if it seems to good to be true it probably is".

          Saving a percent or so on interest is not going to achieve that.

          • ianmac

            Yes Ts.There must be some assumptions on figures but Kieran claims that the figures are from Councils. National/Act claim that the figures are wrong but of course don't show any "correct" figures let alone cost their own suggestions.

            • tsmithfield

              Well it is a bit hard to dispute the figures if the assumptions aren't made clear.

              Do you think it passes the sniff test? So, a job that was going to cost $1000 dollars suddenly only costs $350 through a restructuring? That just seems wildly unrealistic.

              Find somewhere else that has achieved that sort of savings through a restructuring. I would be interested to see it.

              That sounds even more optimistic than the promise of 100000 houses in ten years.

              • Sabine

                But it makes for a good headline, and everyone just hopes that people are too poor, too hungry, too cold, too busy trying to keep it all together to realise its just a pig with lipstick. Not a sow as told, just a lipstick covered pig.

          • pat

            "It looks to be in the category of "if it seems to good to be true it probably is".

            On steroids…and I find it curious the (supposed) savings are measured 30 years out.

            Thats a very specific crystal ball the Gov has….wonder where one might get one?

      • miravox 5.1.3

        I thought the savings were because the government could borrow at better rates than local councils and not a subsidisation from other councils? For councils with higher future costs the savings are going to be greater that for those with that wouldn't have needed to borrow so much.

        • SPC

          The dry stuff.

          Borrowing costs are lower for corporate entities with balance sheet separation from their owners (here councils).

          Basically this is realised by having a minimum of three councils involved (this prevents any one council having any capacity to play politics) – so it is an independent corporate entity doing the borrowing.

          The cheaper loans deliver the cost reductions. With 10 entities not as much savings as with 4 (but closer to the existing local governance set up).

          PS a government guaranteeing loans to councils results in impact on the government credit rating and is inconsistent with councils having debt limits.

        • ianmac

          Yes Miravox. I guess that spreading the cost across the region would benefit the poorer or less capable areas. But our fairly new Hospital was not paid for by our town. The cost was spread across all taxpayers. As with a motor way or a bridge. The difference with the water projects is the cost would be focussed on our zone rather than the whole country. At least our now smaller region should benefit from being able to access a more skilled set of hydrologists than we could get from just our town. Would have been even better getting skills with a 4 zone model, and loans would be cheaper.

          I read somewhere a few years ago that the 3 Waters plan was just a means of by-passing Council loan caps?

        • Craig H

          The major area of savings was (and still is) economies of scale and efficiencies.

          • ianmac

            Presumably we are going to source skilled people for 10 entities now rather than for four. Harder. Cost more unless the skilled are shared out amongst the regions?

            • Ad

              Most staff from old water entities are just getting rolled into the new ones.

              10 entities just means slightly fewer losses in management.

              Anyone here want to work for Wellington Water?

          • tsmithfield

            But that is where the assumptions need to be understood. Because, to claim that sort of saving will likely mean someone else is subsidising it.

            I challenge anyone here to put up numbers that show that sort of saving through efficiencies, savings in interest, or anything else directly related to council expenditure.

            We could be shaping up for another “show me the money” moment.

            So, if you are a rate payer you may well be subsidising some other town's water infrastructure if that is the case.

            • Craig H

              Modelling is publicly available here.

              In the Key Findings of Phase 2 (page 3) in the FAQ, there is this quote:

              WICS assesses the scope for efficiency by looking at the performance of regulated water utilities in the United Kingdom and making adjustments to take account of factors specific to the New Zealand context. It demonstrates that New Zealand’s Three Waters sector is in a broadly similar position to Scotland in 2002, in terms of relative operating efficiency and levels of service. In just under two decades, Scottish Water has lowered its unit costs by 45% and closed the levels of service gap on the best-performing water companies in the United Kingdom. WICS considers that New Zealand can achieve similar outcomes to Scottish Water over a longer period (30 years).

              Obviously Scotland is not NZ as the independent reviews (and WICS themselves) point out, but it's a real world example of a similar programme in a small country (5.2 million) delivering a lot of efficiencies and improvements in service (source). In 2019 dollars, costs dropped from $209 million in 2002 to $160 million in 2019 while delivering a higher level of service, and WICS has done the modelling for NZ. Their work has also been independently reviewed.

              • pat

                The modelling assumes (in the case of Christchurch for example) an annual cost increase of over 15% per annum for the next 30 years under the existing regime and bases the projected 'savings' from that position.

                You can decide whether an annual consistent 15% increase is a realistic base case.

                • tsmithfield

                  Yes, I thought that sort of dodgy accounting may have crept in.

                  The reason it is dodgy is because it is based on the assumption that councils won't decide to do the remediation work themselves, and borrow directly, or increase rates to fund the work.

                  All that the comparison shows at the moment is the cost of not doing the work compared to the cost of doing it. Not who organises it.

                  To accurately measure the savings, the comparison should be between the new entity funding the work through borrowing at a lower interest rate compared to the cost councils would incur borrowing directly to do the work themselves.

                  If it was analysed that way, I guarantee it wouldn’t be 50% savings or whatever the number is.

                  I think that explains how such dramatic savings can be magically generated.

                  • tsmithfield

                    Further to that, it is like saying that "if you don't fix your car it will cost you $$$$. So, you need to take it to the mechanic.

                    The government is effectively saying that you need to take it to this specific mechanic because they can do it a bit cheaper.

                    So, the largest part of the savings aren't directly tied to the entity. They are tied to getting the work done by someone.

                    • pat

                      the gov is also saying you will take your car to the mechanic for regular servicing and upgrades even though you never have in the past…

                      ….something you didnt do because you didnt have the funds to pay the subsequent invoice.

                    • tsmithfield

                      Yes. But the key thing here is getting the work done. Not who does it. I will post below on a much simpler solution.

                    • Poor analogy, and your previous remarks take no notice of the audit and verified costings .

                      Muddying the waters lol. Pun intended.

                    • pat

                      @Patricia Bremmer

                      "S&P has been the Government's go-to at every iteration of the development of its Three Waters reforms – which makes its reports this week to big institutional investors and other clients all the more extraordinary."

                      "We believe there has been too little scrutiny of the affordability of the perceived NZ$120 billion to $180 billion investment in the Three Waters reforms," the reports conclude."


  6. Ad 6

    Crikey where has Kieran McAnultybeen hiding?

    He's about as far from Nanaia Mahuta as it's possible to get.

    Thank God Hipkins has found a guy that can suck the poison out of Labour's worst electoral wound.

    • newsense 6.1

      His talents have been obvious for a while. Why else did we get the Hamilton turncoat singling him out? He’s been doing a great job with his local government responsibilities.

      It just has taken far too long for new talent to be prominent. There should have been plenty of options with a 50% vote.

      The other problem is- who sees him speak? And who gets their news fed through a social media filter of others describing what’s happening… Needs to be putting videos of that kind of speech everywhere. All the social media sites, every possible official place, every meeting. People need to hear from him, not what the opposition have to say.

      • laughyes Agree, but it is a matter of money. Labour are poor compared with well funded Act and National with their bursting war chests. Also many of the podcasts are fairly blue in tone. It is hard to compete for attention. We need to give small regular amounts to counter this too a degree.

  7. coge 7

    Better to take it to the election, in my view.

    • Ad 7.1

      When they do and Labour wins, every other party that voted against it can shut the fuck up.

  8. tsmithfield 8

    Discussions with Pat above suggest that most of the savings are through getting the work done, not who does it.

    With that in mind, I have applied Occam's Razor, and the KISS principle to the problem:

    1. The government establishes an international line of credit at sovereign debt interest rates for the purpose of replacing water infrastructure. Taxes go up a bit to cover the loan. But that is OK because taxpayers are going to pay more one way or another.
    2. Councils receive the money as a grant for the express purpose of renewing water infrastructure. So, the councils essentially get free money to do the work. How could they argue with that?
    3. The government could set up a body similar to the Pharmac model for the purpose of getting the best prices for parts through bulk buying. The councils can buy parts from the crown entity.

    Upshot: The work gets done. Savings are made. Councils keep control of rate-payer assets. No convoluted bureaucratic structures required.

    • pat 8.1

      There is an(other) aspect to the 3 waters situation that is conveniently ignored by all…the economic impact (or opportunity cost) that must occur to solve the basic problems with our water quality and discharge….it is this that has directed the Nelsonian style governance by local bodies with the complicity of central governments of all hues.

      As I have noted before the fact this remains undiscussed simply adds to the impression that all the noise around water reform is largely ( very expensive) window dressing.

      The Greens are the only body that appear to have scratched this area to date…and that was a light touch.

      • tsmithfield 8.1.1

        I think what we have collectively demonstrated is that the argument that "Affordable Waters" is about saving money is a fallacy. Because there are far less convoluted ways to achieve that.

        So, I the conclusion I would draw is that it is really about power and control.

        • Hunter Thompson II

          Looks like it's all part of the PM's strategy to run a hip-pocket election campaign designed to obscure the real objectives you have pointed out – power and control.

          • Incognito

            Labour is deferring Policies that National will repeal. We are entering into election campaign mode and Labour is taking the wind out of the sails of its competitors whilst trying to chalk up minor scoring points. Labour might try going for a TO or heavy body blow, at least, with Budget-2023, but fiscal constraints don’t give much wriggle room. However, they might pull something ‘bold’ out of the hat if they’ve had enough time since the internal change- and make-over of the Team – it will be an Election Budget.

    • Johnr 8.2

      If the govt is going to get cheap money for councils to fix their own waters, then some serious controls would need to be put in place so as it's not siphoned off for, vanity projects, new mayoral chains and cycleways. Perhaps setting up a separate entity such as Aucklands Watercare. However this would be expensive and inefficient for small population bases.
      Furthermore isn’t it time we stopped calling this stuff assests. If it doesn’t earn money it ain’t an asset, in spite of modern accounting mumbo jumbo.

      • tsmithfield 8.2.1

        The way I would run it is as a rebate scheme. So, the councils would do the work first then get reimbursed from the fund.

      • pat 8.2.2

        'Cheap money' is relative…LGFA bonds are around 0.5% higher than direct government funding and council bonds around 0.5% higher again (currently).

        And if 180 billion is spent then it will be paid for by users one way or another (including interest) …either through rates (existing system) or through water charges ('affordable water') with no guarantee of any rates reductions (currently around 35% of Christchurch average rates bill is earmarked for the 3 waters)

        The promised savings cannot be explained by a reduced funding cost.

        • tsmithfield

          But the savings are mainly through reducing forward maintenance costs. So, the mechanism I am proposing would achieve that without adding bureaucracy on top of bureaucracy.

          • pat

            Id suggest forward maintenance is unlikely to explain the savings either….before we can expect a forward maintenance benefit we must first rebuild the systems to the required standard….that is where the bulk of the expenditure will be i would suggest….only then can we expect some benefit from timely maintenance.

            The unnecessary additional bureaucracy just adds salt to the wound

            • tsmithfield

              I suspect the point is that the system basically collapses some point in the future, so councils eventually have no option but to replace pipes etc. And, in the meantime they have sunk all the maintenance costs.

              By bringing forward the infrastructure replacement, those maintenance costs are avoided.

              But, as I said, all that is needed is a mechanism to fund it economically. It doesn't need what the government wants to put in place.

              • pat

                Funding is undoubtably an issue but I see the issue as much broader than 3 waters per se…we have to address population, land use, taxation and local governance/representation (to name a few) at the same time.

                Trying to solve our water issues in isolation is an exercise in futility….and another indication that the purpose of these reforms have little to do with actually improving our water/environment

                • tsmithfield

                  Trying to solve our water issues in isolation is an exercise in futility….and another indication that the purpose of these reforms have little to do with actually improving our water/environment

                  Yes. We likely come from different sides of the track in terms of politics. But I certainly agree those issues need to be centre of focus, and trying to shoe-horn them into a convoluted structure for managing water assets simply won't work.

                  • ianmac

                    Well TS. Your brilliance at solving a well recognised longterm water problem supersedes all other plans. Well done. But if it was so simple why not phone Kieran and tell him your plan and he, the Government, the National Party, and all the Councils will love you for ever. Maybe a statue or a knighthood in it for you?

                    Might have a few fiscal holes in but hey. We will go with it. Thanks so much.

                    • tsmithfield

                      Might have a few fiscal holes in but hey

                      Fire away with some of the fiscal holes that might be there.

                      And, as Belladonna points out below, there is already precedent for this sort of model.

                      But, the main point I am making is that if the main aim is "affordable" water, as the new name of the entity implies, then there are much simpler less convoluted ways of achieving that goal, that also most likely make water even more affordable.

                      So, the big question for me is why they haven't suggested a model similar to mine already?

                      And I probably likely would email Kieran if I thought it would make a difference. But, I think they have already committed to the direction they have chosen, and I suspect for reasons other than making water more “affordable”.

      • Belladonna 8.2.3

        We already have an example of this – Waka Kotahi – NZTA.

        Government funding some national infrastructure (state highways) – and co-funding local infrastructure.

        AFAIK – this has been satisfactorily ring-fenced – and the money is indeed only spent on approved transport infrastructure.

      • Graeme 8.2.4

        That's it, and why any alternative to 3 Waters will end up very similar to 3 Waters.

        The main point of 3 Waters was to get water infrastructure ownership and management as far away from elected councillors as possible so they can't syphon money off to things above ground that get them elected.

        As for the "asset" palaver, that deceit arrived as part and bundle of the 90's corporatisation of local government services, and lead to many arguments and terminated careers at the time. It's absolute bull shit. A pipe in the ground is more correctly situated on the liabilities side of the ledger, and an unquantifiable liability at that, because you never know when and how much the thing is going to cost you when it eventually, or suddenly, doesn't work. And that starts from the moment someone thinks it's a good idea to put a pipe there.

  9. Psycho Milt 9

    Putting McAnulty in charge of this was a great move. Here, he answers the questions but also makes sure the essential messages are put out there in simple terms anyone can understand:

    Newshub Nation interview

    There are a few attempts to get him to bad-mouth Nanaia Mahuta. Given who she is, I don't believe there's any way she could have pitched this to voters that wouldn't have been seized on by every racist in the country as evidence of a devious plot to give white people's assets to Māori.

    • tsmithfield 9.1

      He is doing a better job at polishing a turd. I will grant you that.

      • Psycho Milt 9.1.1

        You have at least proposed an alternative, unlike most of the people complaining about this. Your alternative sounds fine in theory, but Wellington City Council gives us a fine example of the extent to which we could rely on councils to actually do the work. Some of them would do a good job, some of them would match Wellington's performance. Putting it in the hands of dedicated bodies and giving mana whenua a clear say in what happens feels like a better approach to me.

        • tsmithfield

          Psycho, you would be surprised what councils can achieve if the problem of paying for it is taken off the table.

          And the other thing is, that councils have the best knowledge of where the worst problems are, and so can get the best bang for buck by solving those problems first.

          • ianmac

            My apologies DTS. My sarcasm was undeserved. Perhaps you might get the Emperor has no clothes award instead.smiley

            • tsmithfield

              Hmmm. Substituting sarcasm for different sarcasm. Nice. smiley

              Still haven't actually seen a reason for the sarcasm though, other than you feel like being sarcastic?

              • ianmac

                I have been out all day. Not sarcastic that 2nd time. It is possible that your simpler process is an answer. Not sure about economy of scale though but maybe the Government borrows the whole sum say year by year as needed. Each council on its own might be scraping to gather enough expertise? Anyway all OK?

                • tsmithfield

                  Yeah. Fine. I didn't take that as nasty anyway. Just a bit of friendly banter. So, all good.

                  One reason the government might not want to do that plan as it would place the debt directly on government books. Having it sitting in an independent entity allows them to report government debt at a lower debt ratio. Though, it is still all smoke and mirrors, and I think overseas lenders are not stupid, and would likely see it all as the same anyway.

                  And the other thing is that the debt wouldn't be taken as one big hit. But over time as the work was done. So, I don't know that should be a major objection.

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    Primary teachers have agreed to the Government’s pay offer which will see the top base salary step rise to $100,000 by December next year. The settlement will also see a number of improvements to primary teachers’ conditions, including more than double the classroom release time they currently have to ...
    7 hours ago
  • SH25A Bridge construction to get underway in next fortnight
    Associate Transport Minister Kiri Allan has announced the construction plan for the bridge on State Highway 25A that will reconnect the Coromandel peninsula, bringing more certainty to the region’s recovery efforts. “The Government is committed to reconnecting Coromandel communities quickly, and this plan to repair the damage along the highway ...
    8 hours ago
  • Speech to the Seafood Sustainability Awards 2023
    Tena koutou katoa and welcome to Parliament. It is a great pleasure for me to host you here today, for the second New Zealand Seafood Sustainability Awards. The awards started in 2020 and officially, are to be held every two years. But as with so many things, COVID got in the ...
    22 hours ago
  • Equal gender representation on public sector boards for third year in a row
    Representation for women on public sector boards and committees is the highest it’s ever been with wāhine now making up 53.1 percent of public board and committee members,” Minister for Women Jan Tinetti said. Manatū Wāhine Ministry for Women’s 2022 stocktake of public sector boards and committees shows for the ...
    1 day ago
  • New law passes on child support to sole parents
    A new law enabling sole parents on a benefit to receive child support payments for their tamariki was passed in Parliament today. “This change is estimated to lift as many as 14,000 children out of poverty and give families a median of $20 extra a week,” said Social Development and ...
    1 day ago
  • New moves to curb youth vaping
    Crack down on disposable vapes   No new vape shops near schools or marae Restricted descriptions for product flavours The Government is taking action to reduce the number of young people taking up vaping, Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall has announced. “Too many young people are vaping, which is why we’re ...
    1 day ago
  • Fiji Prime Minister Rabuka to visit New Zealand
    Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka will visit New Zealand this week, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. “Prime Minister Rabuka officially visited New Zealand in 1998, over 25 years ago, and we look forward to welcoming him here once again,” Chris Hipkins said.  “New Zealand and Fiji have a long ...
    1 day ago
  • Sports stars and administrators honoured
    The King’s Birthday and Coronation Honours List 2023 includes sporting stars and administrators who reflect the best of New Zealand’s sporting community. Sir Wayne Smith has been knighted for services to rugby. Sir Wayne was Assistant Coach of the All Blacks at the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cups and ...
    3 days ago
  • Kapa Haka rangatira amongst those honoured on King’s Birthday
    Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa taki tini ‘My success is not mine alone, but that of the people” The King’s Birthday and Coronation Honours list 2023 celebrates Māori from all walks of life, reflecting the achievements of those who have made a significant contribution to ...
    3 days ago
  • King’s Birthday Honours recognise strength of service to NZ
    The strength and diversity of service in New Zealand is a standout feature of today’s King’s Birthday and Coronation Honours list, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Each of today’s 182 recipients has contributed individually to our country. Viewed collectively, their efforts reflect an overwhelming commitment to service.” Chris Hipkins said. ...
    3 days ago
  • Closer defence cooperation between New Zealand and Japan
    The Defence Ministers of New Zealand and Japan have signed a statement of intent for closer defence cooperation between the two Pacific regional partners. Andrew Little and H. E. Yasukazu Hamada met to sign the ‘Statement of Intent on Defence Cooperation in Maritime Security, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief and ...
    3 days ago
  • SPEECH: To the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue 2023 by the Honourable Andrew Little MP, New Zealand Ministe...
    New Zealand’s most recent defence assessment identified climate change and geostrategic competition as the two greatest security challenges to our place in the South Pacific. To the first issue, partners engaging and re-engaging with Pacific Island Countries are finding that climate change is a security and existential threat in our ...
    5 days ago
  • Govt supporting more rangatahi into training and employment opportunities
    The government is continuing to support rangatahi in providing more funding into Maori Trades training and new He Poutama Rangatahi programmes across Aotearoa. “We’re backing 30 new by Māori for Māori Kaupapa employment and training programmes, which will help iwi into sustainable employment or progress within their chosen careers” says ...
    5 days ago
  • Energy self-sufficient marae reopens with support of Government investment
    Murihiku Marae was officially reopened today, setting a gold standard in sustainable building practices as well as social outcomes for the people of Waihōpai Invercargill, Regional Development Minister Kiri Allan says. “The marae has been a central hub for this community since the 1980’s. With the support of $9.65 million ...
    5 days ago
  • First major Whangārei public housing project in a generation complete
    The first major public housing development in Whangārei for decades has reached completion, with 37 new homes opened in the suburb of Maunu today. The project on Tapatahi Crescent and Puriri Park Road, consists of 15 one-bedroom, 4 two-bedroom, 7 three-bedroom, 8 four-bedroom and 3 five-bedroom homes, as well as ...
    5 days ago
  • Trade Minister to represent New Zealand trade interests abroad
    Trade and Export Growth Minister Damen O’Connor will depart tomorrow for London to represent New Zealand at the Commonwealth Trade Ministers’ Meeting and then to Paris to vice-chair the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting. “My travel to the United Kingdom is well-timed, with the United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement (UK FTA) ...
    5 days ago
  • Bill to boost national fuel resiliency introduced
    The Fuel Industry (Improving Fuel Resilience) Amendment Bill would: boost New Zealand’s fuel supply resilience and economic security enable the minimum stockholding obligation regulations to be adapted as the energy and transport environment evolves. “Last November, I announced a six-point plan to improve the resiliency of our fuel supply from ...
    6 days ago
  • Faster ACC payment top-ups and fairer system
    The Government is making sure those on low incomes will no longer have to wait five weeks to get the minimum weekly rate of ACC, and improving the data collected to make the system fairer, Minister for ACC Peeni Henare said today.  The Accident Compensation (Access Reporting and Other Matters) ...
    6 days ago
  • Compulsory code of conduct for school boards introduced
    A compulsory code of conduct will ensure school board members are crystal clear on their responsibilities and expected standard of behaviour, Minister of Education Jan Tinetti said. It’s the first time a compulsory code of conduct has been published for state and state-integrated school boards and comes into effect on ...
    6 days ago
  • Speech to the New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen annual conference.
    Tena koutou katoa and thank you, Mayor Nadine Taylor, for your welcome to Marlborough. Thanks also Doug Saunders-Loder and all of you for inviting me to your annual conference. As you might know, I’m quite new to this job – and I’m particularly pleased that the first organisation I’m giving a ...
    6 days ago
  • Govt to support councils with buyout and better protection of cyclone and flood affected properties
    The Government will enter into a funding arrangement with councils in cyclone and flood affected regions to support them to offer a voluntary buyout for owners of Category 3 designated residential properties. It will also co-fund work needed to protect Category 2 designated properties. “From the beginning of this process ...
    6 days ago
  • Government delivers changes to reduce pokies harm
    The Government has announced changes to strengthen requirements in venues with pokie (gambling) machines will come into effect from 15 June. “Pokies are one of the most harmful forms of gambling. They can have a detrimental impact on individuals, their friends, whānau and communities,” Internal Affairs Minister Barbara Edmonds said. ...
    6 days ago
  • Government delivers 1800 additional frontline Police
    The total Police workforce is now the largest it has ever been. Police constabulary stands at 10,700 officers – an increase of 21% since 2017 Māori officers have increased 40%, Pasifika 83%, Asian 157%, Women 61% Every district has got more Police under this Government The Government has delivered on ...
    6 days ago
  • Minister Mahuta talks Pacific ambitions at the first Korea-Pacific Leaders’ summit
    Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Nanaia Mahuta met with Korea President Yoon, as well as Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna, during her recent visit to Korea.  “It was an honour to represent Aotearoa New Zealand at the first Korea – Pacific Leaders’ Summit. We discussed Pacific ambitions under the ...
    6 days ago
  • Government drives $2 billion of business research and development
    The Government’s Research and Development Tax Incentive has supported more than $2 billion of New Zealand business innovation – an increase of around $1 billion in less than nine months. "Research and innovation are essential in helping us meet the biggest challenges and seize opportunities facing New Zealand. It’s fantastic ...
    1 week ago
  • Achieving lift off: National Space Policy launched
    The next ‘giant leap’ in New Zealand’s space journey has been taken today with the launch of the National Space Policy, Economic Development Minister Barbara Edmonds announced. “Our space sector is growing rapidly. Each year New Zealand is becoming a more and more attractive place for launches, manufacturing space-related technology ...
    1 week ago
  • New science and creative technologies wharekura announced
    A new Year 7-13 designated character wharekura will be built in Pāpāmoa, Associate Minister of Education Kelvin Davis has announced. The wharekura will focus on science, mathematics and creative technologies while connecting ākonga to the whakapapa of the area. The decision follows an application by the Ngā Pōtiki ā Tamapahore ...
    1 week ago
  • Freedom Camping changes a win for the environment
    Protecting the environment by establishing a stronger, more consistent system for freedom camping Supporting councils to better manage freedom camping in their region and reduce the financial and social impacts on communities Ensuring that self-contained vehicle owners have time to prepare for the new system   The Self-Contained Motor Vehicle ...
    1 week ago
  • Speeding up the family court, reducing stress on families
    A new law passed last night could see up to 25 percent of Family Court judges’ workload freed up in order to reduce delays, Minister of Justice Kiri Allan said. The Family Court (Family Court Associates) Legislation Bill will establish a new role known as the Family Court Associate. The ...
    1 week ago
  • UK FTA delivers benefits from today
    New Zealand businesses will begin reaping the rewards of our gold-standard free trade agreement with the United Kingdom (UK FTA) from today.  “The New Zealand UK FTA enters into force from today, and is one of the seven new or upgraded Free Trade Agreements negotiated by Labour to date,” Prime ...
    1 week ago
  • Next steps to reform outdated surrogacy law
    The Government will reform outdated surrogacy laws to improve the experiences of children, surrogates, and the growing number of families formed through surrogacy, by adopting Labour MP Tāmati Coffey’s Member’s Bill as a Government Bill, Minister Kiri Allan has announced. “Surrogacy has become an established method of forming a family ...
    1 week ago
  • Defence Minister to attend Shangri-La Dialogue
    Defence Minister Andrew Little departs for Singapore tomorrow to attend the 20th annual Shangri-La Dialogue for Defence Ministers from the Indo-Pacific region. “Shangri-La brings together many countries to speak frankly and express views about defence issues that could affect us all,” Andrew Little said. “New Zealand is a long-standing participant ...
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand–China science relationship affirmed
    Research, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall and the Chinese Minister of Science and Technology Wang Zhigang met in Wellington today and affirmed the two countries’ long-standing science relationship. Minister Wang was in New Zealand for the 6th New Zealand-China Joint Commission Meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation. Following ...
    1 week ago
  • Supporting a strong future for screen sector
    5 percent uplift clearer and simpler to navigate  Domestic productions can access more funding sources 20 percent rebate confirmed for post-production, digital and visual effects Qualifying expenditure for post-production, digital and visual effects rebate dropped to $250,000 to encourage more smaller productions The Government is making it easier for the ...
    1 week ago
  • Minister Sepuloni to attend 61st Anniversary of Samoa’s Independence
    Deputy Prime Minister and Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs (Pacific Region) Carmel Sepuloni will represent New Zealand at Samoa’s 61st Anniversary of Independence commemorations in Apia. “Aotearoa New Zealand is pleased to share in this significant occasion, alongside other invited Pacific leaders, and congratulates Samoa on the milestone of 61 ...
    1 week ago
  • Govt backs retailers with expansion of fog cannon programme
    The Government is continuing to support retailers with additional funding for the highly popular Fog Cannon Subsidy Scheme, Police and Small Business Minister Ginny Andersen announced today.  “The Government is committed to improving retailers’ safety,” Ginny Andersen said.  “I’ve seen first-hand the difference fog cannons are making. Not only do ...
    1 week ago

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