Steering Committee Update, 12 November 2020

Return toThree Waters Reform Programme

Tēnā koutou katoa,

This email from the joint Central/Local Government Three Waters Steering Committee has been sent to Mayors, Chairs, and Chief Executives only, and should be shared with your colleagues as appropriate (more information on the Steering Committee is provided at the bottom of this email*).

Ministerial matters

The Minister of Local Government, and other Ministers with portfolio interests, are in the process of being briefed on matters relating to the Reform Programme.

In the meantime, the Steering Committee continues to work together in partnership to progress the Reform Programme to the previously indicated timelines.

First instalment of stimulus funding

As at 12 November 2020, the Department had approved 58 of 67 council Delivery Plans, equivalent to $468million of the $523million of stimulus grant funding available.

We expect the remaining councils to receive approvals in the next two weeks. If your council has not already received your DIA signed Funding Agreement, Delivery Plan and Addendum, you should receive these very shortly.

Once these have been returned and the DIA have received a tax invoice from the council, your payment will be processed.

All councils should receive their initial funding allocation (equal to 50% of their total allocation) during November 2020.

The Request for Information

On 23 October 2020, DIA sent out a Request for Information (RfI) as part of the Memorandum of Understanding for the Reform Programme.

As a result of feedback during webinar clinics, the RfI documentation has been updated and reissued this week to council leads. This update has been accompanied by detailed information on changes so that those that have already begun this work can easily substitute the relevant sections. These changes have now been made to the DIA RfI webpage.

The purpose of this RfI is to collect information required to undertake detailed analysis to support advice on the options for the Reform Programme. All councils are being asked to provide a base level of information under this RfI and will have access to support in completing this task.

A representative group of councils has been identified to provide more detailed information. There has been strong interest in being part of the representative sample completing the more detailed RfI, and nine additional councils have put their hand up to join this group.

Most councils have now nominated lead personnel to co-ordinate and manage this process. SOLGM has identified a group of Account Managers to work closely with these council leads.

We acknowledge the significant demands on local authorities at this time and DIA has partnered with SOLGM, BECA, EY and the Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS) to provide support throughout the RfI process. This support includes an email helpdesk, webinars, regular updates and check-ins, and technical support.

Webinar clinic summaries are being attached to the schedule of clinics on the RfI webpage (link above) as they become available. These include Questions and Answers arising from the webinar sessions.

A series of related instructional videos will soon also be available on this webpage.

Compiling this information, including on council assets, service delivery costs, and future investment requirements, will enable officers to be in a better position to provide high quality advice to the Council on the objectives and potential impacts of the proposed reform next year.

Your council staff are best placed to undertake the RfI process. There is no expectation that councils commission additional work to fill in any gaps you might have in your information -- instead councils should use the confidence rating system within the RfI. 

We would also like to remind those small number of Chief Executives that have not done so already, to nominate a single representative from your council to co-ordinate the RfI response and send their contact details to

Engagement with mana whenua

On Saturday 17 October 2020, DIA held the final formal hui in the current series of Crown engagement with iwi/Māori. This series of hui included an introductory webinar with Hon Nanaia Mahuta, 17 in-person hui across the country, and an online hui.

DIA is producing a draft report of the resulting kōrero and are sharing this with hui participants this week as an assurance check-in before finalising a completed report. This will be made available online.  

The hui were undertaken alongside Taumata Arowai to discuss the interlinking pieces of work in the three waters space (The Three Waters Reform Programme, Establishment of Taumata Arowai, and the Water Services Bill).

We would like to reiterate that this series of hui is not the start or end of engagement with iwi/Māori. DIA acknowledges feedback on how future hui can be improved and will continue to seek the most suitable approaches for ongoing engagement as the reform programme progresses.

All supporting materials from the hui are available on the Reform Programme webpage and you can watch the introductory webinar with Hon Nanaia Mahuta here: Taumata Arowai and Three Waters Reform Programme iwi/Māori pre-workshop introductory webinar recording 

Looking forward

As noted above, DIA officials will be continuing to engage with the Minister of Local Government and Three Waters Ministers about next steps on the Three Waters Service Delivery Reform Programme.

Following this early engagement with the new Government, officials expect to provide further detail before Christmas regarding the key milestones and timetable for reform, including a further significant round of sector and iwi/Māori engagement around March 2021.

Steering Committee priorities for the next three months include:

  • Completion of Delivery Plans and release of Three Waters stimulus funding
  • Supporting councils to complete the Request for Information
  • Proposed approach to community consultation and councils’ decision making on reform proposals, including implications for LTPs
  • Identifying and understanding options for ownership, governance and control arrangements for water services entities
  • Development of advice on water entities interface with the planning system
  • Financial consideration for transfer of water services assets & debt and implications for local government finances
  • Further work to support decisions about the number and boundaries of water services entities
  • Ongoing engagement on the reform programme, including planning the next series of formal workshops/hui timed for March 2021.

*The Joint Three Waters Steering Committee

The Committee was formed following agreement, at the Prime Minister’s Central/Local Government Forum in mid-May, between senior Government Ministers and LGNZ’s National Council to work in partnership towards three waters service delivery reform.

It comprises Mayors, Chief Executives, Regional Council and Te Maruata representation as well as the Society of Local Government Managers, Local Government New Zealand, the Department of Internal Affairs, and the Treasury.

The Committee provides oversight and guidance and works to ensure that a broad range of interests and perspectives are considered through the reform process.

These updates are posted to the Three Waters Reform webpage where you will also find key documents relating to the Steering Committee’s work and to the overall three waters reform programme:  

Ngā mihi,

Three Waters Steering Committee