Three Waters Reform Programme: Drinking Water

On this page

About Drinking Water
Taumata Arowai
Three Waters Review
Government Inquiry into Havelock North Drinking Water

About Drinking Water

Safe, affordable and reliable drinking water, and wastewater and stormwater networks that meet environmental and cultural expectations are the foundation of advanced societies. It is also essential for the protection of public health and the health of the environment.

In mid-2017, following the Government Inquiry into Havelock North Drinking Water, the Government established the Three Waters Review to look at how to improve the regulation and service delivery arrangements of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater – the three waters – to better support New Zealand’s environment, health, and safety. The findings of the Review were consistent with many of the Havelock North Inquiry’s findings and raised system-wide questions about the effectiveness of the regulatory regime for the three waters, and the capability and sustainability of water service providers.

This led to the establishment of Taumata Arowai, the new water services regulator and a strengthened regulatory environment for three waters services. Taumata Arowai has a strong focus on the safety of New Zealand’s drinking water and on 15 November 2021 became the drinking water regulator. In 2024, it will assume responsibility for wastewater and stormwater networks, becoming the three waters regulator for Aotearoa.

Taumata Arowai was established as a Crown entity in March 2021, and took over from the Ministry of Health as the new water services regulator for New Zealand on 15 November 2021 when the Water Services Act [New Zealand Parliament website] came into effect.

Establishment of Taumata Arowai

Taumata Arowai was established as a Crown entity in March 2021 and took over from the Ministry of Health as the new water services regulator for New Zealand on 15 November 2021 when the Water Services Act came into effect.

Video transcript [DOCX, 52KB]

Note: Based on user browser settings, YouTube may mark videos as restricted. If the video is unable to be viewed, please copy and paste the video link (https://www.youtube.com/embed/sefiW_9Xv0M) into a different browser. Alternatively, it is also recommended to view the video in an 'Incognito window' or private browser.

Find out more about Taumata Arowai below.

Visit the Taumata Arowai website

Related Cabinet papers on the DIA website

Back to top

Three Waters Review

Beginning in mid-2017, the Three Waters Review ran in parallel to the latter stages of the Government Inquiry into Havelock North Drinking Water, which was set up following the campylobacter outbreak in 2016. Up to 5,500 people become ill, and four people are thought to have died as a result of this outbreak.

The initial findings of the Review were consistent with many of the Havelock North Inquiry’s findings, and raised broader questions about the effectiveness of the regulatory regime for the three waters, and the capability and sustainability of water service providers.

Read more about the Three Waters Review

Back to top

Government Inquiry into Havelock North Drinking Water

Safe drinking water is crucial to public health. The outbreak of gastroenteritis in Havelock North town supply in August 2016 shook public confidence in this fundamental service.

An estimated 5,500 of the town’s 14,000 residents became ill with campylobacteriosis and 45 were subsequently hospitalised as a result of this outbreak. Four people are thought to have died and an unknown number of residents continue to suffer health complications following this event.

The August 2016 outbreak was traced to contamination of the drinking water supplied by two bores in Brookvale Road, on the outskirts of Havelock North. This raised serious questions about the safety and security of New Zealand’s drinking water.

Government Inquiry into Havelock North Drinking Water

Contact us

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

If you have any queries, please email: ThreeWaters@dia.govt.nz