Iwi/Māori interests

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The Three Waters Reform represents a multi-generational opportunity to address long-term affordability challenges, equity of access to services, and meet quality expectations of our communities in the delivery of drinking water, stormwater and wastewater services.

As part of the Reform proposals, Cabinet has agreed to recognise and provide for Iwi/Māori rights and interests in the Reform with a specific focus on service-delivery. It is proposed that Iwi/Māori will have a greater role in the new Three Waters system, including pathways for enhanced participation by whānau and hapū as these services relate to their Treaty rights and interests. The below summarises they key opportunities for Iwi/Māori in the Reform with detailed information on these in Cabinet paper three [PDF, 2MB].

The Reform journey to date has been a long process which included engagement with local government, Iwi/Māori and industry experts during the Three Waters Review (2017-2020) and the Three Waters Reform Programme (2020-2021). Engagement included many series of workshops across the country, webinars, technical reference groups and one on one discussions.

This engagement on three waters service delivery reforms is expected to continue on an ongoing basis throughout the reform programme lifetime (anticipated to take until 1 July 2024). The water services entities, when live, will also be required to form relationships with mana whenua and resource this relationship. Our engagement approach intends to support and/or set in place, a foundation for this to occur in advance of the establishment of any water services entity, should the government proceed with reform.

Invitations to the officials by Iwi/Māori to engage can be delivered to: ThreeWaters@dia.govt.nz

Opportunities for Iwi/Māori in the Three Waters Reform

Design FeatureDescriptionOpportunity for Iwi/Māori
Statutory Recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi   Rights & Interests of Iwi/Māori will be recognised and provided for in service-delivery arrangements for the new Three Waters system Uphold existing Treaty Settlement arrangements, including through transition and the standing-up of new entities 
 Statutory Recognition of Te Mana o Te Wai  Te Mana o Te Wai will be recognised and provided for in service-delivery arrangements for the new Three Waters system Each entity will be required to give effect to Te Mana o Te Wai both in legislation and as articulated by mana whenua over a defined waterbody 
 Creation of Mana Whenua Groups for each Entity
 A Mana Whenua Group for each of the four entities will be established to guide strategic performance expectations alongside local government Each Mana Whenua Group will have equal voting rights to local government and the new entities will have statutory obligations to fund and ensure Mana Whenua participation 
 Te Mana o Te Wai statements   Legislation will broadly describe Te Mana o Te Wai, however the emphasis is that mana whenua define what Te Mana o Te Wai means to their specific location.  Operationally, a statement can take the form of an Iwi Management Plan, Cultural Impact Statement or the like  Provides an instrument for mana whenua to prioritise their capacity and capability to participate in the new system and recognises the role of whānau and hapū in providing kaitiakitanga activities 
 Collective Board Competencies  The Independent Selection Panel will be responsible for appointing entity board governors based on key competencies   Each entity board will be required to have collective competencies in Treaty of Waitangi, mātauranga Māori, tikanga Māori and te ao Māori 
 Specific Board Expertise  The Independent Selection Panel will be required to appoint to the entity boards, one or more individuals with specific expertise   An individual or a number of individuals will be required to have expertise in the exercise of kaitiakitanga, tikanga & mātauranga Māori relating to delivering water services
Support for Capability and Capacity Mana whenua will have an increasing role in both submitting and providing advice on the new entities will be guided in interpreting these statements by mana whenua  Entities will fund and support capability and capacity for mana whenua to participate 

 *Note: the reform proposals also strengthen the mechanisms for individual consumers and communities (including iwi/Māori) to directly influence the entities themselves, through ongoing engagement, reporting and transparency obligations.

Rural Drinking Water Programme - Te Hōtaka Wai Inu Taiwhenua 

The Rural Drinking Water Programme - Te Hōtaka Wai Inu Taiwhenua – improves drinking water for marae, kōhanga reo, and papakāinga that are not connected to town supply. The programme focuses on kāinga that must comply with drinking water standards by November 2022 and those marae located in areas of high vulnerability.

Find out more and register your interest at Rural Drinking Water Programme.


Contact us

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

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