I orea te tuatara ka patu ki waho – A problem is solved by continuing to find solutions*

Today the Minister of Local Government announced the future direction for the Three Waters service delivery component of the Three Waters Reform Programme – to introduce legislation to create four publicly-owned water entities.

Taituarā welcomes the certainty that the decision creates noting that it complements the decisions that have already been made to improve the regulatory system within which these services are delivered. Although today’s announcement will not be what some were expecting or hoping for, the Taituarā Executive Board acknowledges the contribution of everyone in the sector who has been involved – including those chief executives on the Steering Group and all who have engaged in and contributed to the dialogue.

Today’s announcement marks an important milestone in the Reform Progamme. While the Minister acknowledges there is still work to be progressed, including on governance and accountability arrangements, today’s announcement will provide certainty and a clear future direction for the sector. What we do know is that long-term the status quo is unsustainable in many communities. Safe, affordable drinking water and good quality wastewater and stormwater services are critical for the health and well-being of our communities and our environment. They must come at a price that communities can afford.

The local government sector has now been in a change environment for a sustained period of time. This period of uncertainty has been taking its toll on those who work in the sector and their teams. This, and the other reform programmes, are enormous and complex. As local government professionals, Taituarā will continue to engage constructively in the Three Waters Reform Programme alongside other reforms, and we are committed to supporting our members through whatever comes next.

We are now working closely with Future for Local Government Panel as they begin their next phase of work to investigate and map the potential of local government in the decades to come. We will shortly begin our own phase of engagement with you in preparation for responding to the Panel’s priority questions.

* This whakatauki refers to the need for creative thinking, adaptability and perseverance. In order to solve a problem, you need to have all of these.