Steering Committee Update -  3 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*).

Minister of Local Government announced

Yesterday, 2 November 2020, the Prime Minister announced the Ministerial List, including return of the Honourable Nanaia Mahuta as the Minister of Local Government.

The Minister of Local Government, and other Ministers with portfolio interests, will be briefed on matters relating to the Reform Programme over the coming months.

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

All councils will receive the first instalment of your stimulus finding during November 2020. This instalment will be 50% of the council’s full stimulus amount.

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.

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.

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).

Iwi were invited to invite their council partners as they saw appropriate, and we would like to thank those council representatives who attended and contributed to the hui.

The feedback from the hui, and ongoing discussions with iwi/hapū as the reform programme progresses, will be crucial to the Steering Committee’s work to ensure the interests and perspectives of mana whenua are reflected through the reform process.

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.

DIA is currently working to produce a report to reflect the extremely valuable kōrero from the hui and discuss next steps for ongoing engagement as the reform progresses. This report will be made available online.

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 

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.

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, with a number of councils already putting their hand up to join this group. There is no disadvantage if you do not join the representative sample. However, this is an opportunity for councils to be supported through a critical and valuable task.

The Steering Committee strongly encourages all councils to participate in the more detailed RfI and provide the additional information. The process will advance your own knowledge and understanding about council assets, service delivery costs, and future investment requirements.

Compiling this information 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 this 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.  

Councils that are not on the representative sample but wish to undertake the detailed RfI can choose to do so. You must communicate this by emailing threewaters@dia.govt.nz by 6 November 2020 to ensure the appropriate support mechanisms are in place. (A table of those councils selected for the representative sample is attached to this email.)

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.

We would also like to remind those 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 threewaters@dia.govt.nz

Looking forward

As noted above, DIA officials will be engaging with their incoming Minister 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.

*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: https://www.dia.govt.nz/Three-Waters-Reform-Programme  

Ngā mihi,

Three Waters Steering Committee

Email: 3WatersSteeringGroup@dia.govt.nz