Taumata Arowai

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See also: Three Waters Reform Programme
Three Waters Review

NOTE: This is background information from the Taumata Arowai Establishment Unit.
For latest information please go to the Taumata Arowai website.


Safe drinking water for all New Zealanders and visitors is a reasonable expectation, and high-performing drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services are essential for the protection of public health and the health of the environment.

Recognising this vital importance, in September 2019, the New Zealand government agreed to create a new water services regulator to administer and enforce the new drinking water regulatory system, while contributing to improved environmental outcomes from wastewater and stormwater networks.

Taumata Arowai became a new Crown entity in March 2021. It is set to become the dedicated water services regulator for Aotearoa when the Water Services Bill passes, expected to be in the second half of 2021.

Read more about Taumata Arowai – why they were established, who they are and what they’ll be doing when they become the water services regulator for Aotearoa.

Overview of the Water Services Bill

The Water Services Bill is currently before the Health Select Committee for consideration.

Submissions on this Bill are open until 2 March 2021. We have provided the below overview of the Bill, as introduced to the House, to help you understand the Bill and consider making a submission to the Select Committee.

Overview of the Water Services Bill (PDF, 1MB)

The Water Services Bill (Taumata Arowai website)

New Drinking Water Regulatory System - Exposure drafts

The Water Services Bill gives Taumata Arowai the authority to prepare standards and rules that water suppliers must comply with.

Read the working drafts/exposure drafts of these proposed new drinking water standards and rules.

When the Water Services Bill is passed, expected to be in the second half of 2021, Taumata Arowai takes over as the regulator of drinking water. Until then, the Ministry of Health remains the regulator of drinking water.

When Taumata Arowai is fully functionally, in essence its role will be to:

  • oversee and administer an expanded and strengthened drinking-water regulatory system, to ensure all New Zealand communities have access to safe drinking water.  That includes holding suppliers to account, if need be. See: For water suppliers (Taumata Arowai website)
  • oversee from a national perspective the environmental performance of waste water and storm water networks. (Regional councils will remain the primary regulators of waste water and storm water).

Three Waters Reforms

The establishment of Taumata Arowai is one three po (pillars) of the Government’s Three Waters Reform programme, alongside the regulatory reforms outlined in the Water Services Bill, and the reforms to water delivery services

These reforms are intended to address issues and opportunities that were highlighted by the Government Inquiry into the Havelock North Drinking Water, and in the Government’s Three Waters Review.

The reforms are designed to:

  • Provide clear leadership for drinking water regulation through a new, dedicated regulator;
  • Significantly strengthen compliance, monitoring, and enforcement relating to drinking water regulation, and equip the new regulator with the powers and resources needed to build capability, support suppliers of all kinds to meet their regulatory obligations, and take a tougher, more consistent approach to enforcement where needed;
  • Manage risks to drinking water safety and ensure source waters are protected;
  • Ensure more people can access water that is safe to drink, by requiring all suppliers (except individual domestic self-suppliers) to be part of the regulatory system, and to provide safe drinking water on a consistent basis;
  • Lift the environmental performance and transparency of wastewater and stormwater networks; and
  • Improve national-level leadership, oversight, and support relating to wastewater and stormwater.  

Find out more about Taumata Arowai:

Taumata Arowai - key documents

View Cabinet papers, minutes and reports on the Taumata Arowai website:

Legislation and reports (Taumata Arowai website)

News and Media (Beehive website)

The Water Services Regulator Bill – Taumata Arowai a milestone for drinking water safety (12/12/2019)

Independent regulator to make drinking water safe (25/10/2019)

Dedicated watchdog for water quality (1/8/2019)

Wellbeing and water - a necessary conversation with Local Government (20/11/2018)

Counting the costs of safe, clean water (24/10/2018)


Contact Taumata Arowai at: info@taumataarowai.govt.nz

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