Matamata-Piako Mayor Ash Tanner was one of a large group of Mayors representing more than a million New Zealanders that took their Three Waters concerns to Parliament on Wednesday (15 December 2021), marking the first step of a powerful new local democracy campaign.
Communities 4 Local Democracy - He hapori mō te Manapori is a newly formed and growing group of 23 councils from around the country. The group was created in response to serious concerns about the Government’s Three Waters reforms, and numbers are growing as local councils consider the implications of the proposed legislation – in particular losing control of approximately $60 billion of community owned assets across the whole country.
More than a dozen mayors and other elected representatives took the group’s message to meetings at Parliament with National, ACT, the Green Party and Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta.
“Like the Government, we want to ensure all New Zealanders have access to safe drinking water. This isn’t about being renegades, it’s about getting a credible model and we’re committed to working with the Government to achieve that,” says Mayor Ash.
“No-one disputes the need for investment, but there’s a better way to achieve the Government’s objectives and we want to work in partnership with them on that,” he says.
“Our action group will introduce fresh ideas for better water. But our fresh ideas will ensure that our local communities continue to have a say on how the assets that they have bought and paid for are used to achieve our health and environmental goals.
“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.
Communities 4 Local Democracy 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.