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Council continuing to seek changes to Three Waters reforms

Gisborne District Council has not given up trying to bring changes to the Government's Three Waters reforms.

Mayor Rehette Stoltz says she is continuing to advocate on behalf of the Tairāwhiti community concerning the Government's controversial reforms.

On October 27, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta said the plan to combine all water services and infrastructure would go ahead, with minor changes to what was proposed.

The reform means all 67 councils around the country will have their three waters (drinking, stormwater and wastewater) merged into four regional entities. Tairāwhiti is in Entity C, along with 20 other councils including Wellington.

Mayor Stoltz says there are a number of workstreams happening nationally to try to bring about change to the proposed mandate and the council was an active part of those initiatives.

“Our community has spoken loud and clear and I'll continue to advocate in their best interests. We have made our position clear to the Government in our submission and suggested other options we could explore together.”

Over 650 people responded to a council survey in September in which 93 percent were opposed to the proposal.

The council also commissioned an independent report which outlined flaws in the modelling and financial simulations.

“While we understand the Government's position that the country's water infrastructure need an upgrade, our position remains unchanged,” the Mayor said.

“We need to be assured our local voice won't be lost. I intend to continue to work behind the scenes to bring about change to the mandate and what is proposed.”

Between January and June 2022 the Government begins consultation with local authorities.

In July 2022 the first $500 million of the “better-off” funding becomes available to councils.

Gisborne District Council's funding allocation is $28.8m.

Public submissions and hearings will then take place between January and June 2023.

By July 1, 2024, the timeline states the four new entities will take responsibility for delivering water services.

At the same time, the remaining “better off” and “no worse off” funding will be made available to all councils.

■ For more information on the Three Waters reform proposal, go to tinyurl.com/2p9fara9

Mayor Rehette Stoltz. File picture by Liam Clayton