Council joins new waters campaign





South Taranaki District Mayor Phil Nixon was one of many mayors representing more than one million New Zealanders at Parliament in December. The mayors discussed their Three Waters concerns, marking the first step of a powerful new local democracy campaign. Communities 4 Local Democracy — He hapori mo¯ te Manapori — is a newly formed and growing group of 23 councils from around the country. “Like the Government, we want to ensure all New Zealanders have access to safe drinking water and we are committed to working with the Government to achieve that,” says Helen Worboys, Mayor of Manawatu and chair of the new group. “This is an inclusive campaign. It’s about safe drinking water for all New Zealanders, whoever and wherever they are. “More meaningful Mana Whenua representation is an important part of that. It’s also an apolitical campaign, we’re completely focused on the issue regardless of political affiliation.” South Taranaki Mayor Phil Nixon says the council decided to join the campaign after Government ignored requests to change its decision. “While we accepted that things needed some change, what really upset us and many of our ratepayers was the Government’s decision to force councils to be part of the Three Waters Reform without any consultation. “Our communities are very clearly telling us that they don’t want control of the assets that generations of our ratepayers built up and paid for being taken away from them as part of the Government’s plan.” He says the group believe in people having a voice. “We don’t believe that the best solution lies in putting our assets into what will be four of the largest companies in New Zealand, without being able to have a say in how those companies are run. And given the Government hasn’t provided opportunities for genuine participation in Three Waters reform, we think it’s entirely appropriate for our council, in collaboration with other concerned councils, to represent the residents of South Taranaki and give them a voice.” Communities 4 Local Democracy says it is taking a constructive approach to the situation by commissioning expert advice on alternative models that might achieve the objectives of Government and local communities. It will be sharing its findings when they are complete.