Mayors united in disappointment over three waters working group

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Published: 10 Mar 2022

Three South Canterbury Mayors are united in their disappointment with the outcome of the Government’s Three Waters Working Group.

The mayors of Timaru, Waimate and Mackenzie districts have been part of a nationwide campaign to get the Government to stop and rethink the Three Waters reform it is currently imposing on communities.

Timaru District Mayor Nigel Bowen said that the working group did nothing to allay the bigger questions over property rights being undermined by the proposal.

“The tinkering over the ownership structure that the working group has proposed does nothing to make us more comfortable about the proposal,” said Bowen.

“Again they have delivered a Clayton’s ownership model where you have a share, but little influence over your assets, and then adds another layer of bureaucracy diluting community voice even further.

“It’s not ownership as we understand it and underlines the importance of the high court proceedings we’re undertaking.

“Through Communities 4 Local Democracy we’ve tabled a common sense and community oriented solution that would meet the government requirements, but would also enjoy broad support, something which the Government doesn’t have.”

Waimate District Mayor Craig Rowley, said: "We are disappointed in the report to be presented to the Minister with what appears to be only some minor changes, at best.

"It's really just tinkering around the edges and does not in any way solve or clarify the major issues around ownership, representation and local voice."

Mackenzie District Mayor Graham Smith expressed his disappointment that the three waters working party findings and recommendations to Government failed to address some of the fundamental concerns for the Mackenzie District.

“Ownership of infrastructure belongs to our community and it needs to have a voice,” said Smith.

“Mackenzie should not be paying for larger councils’ problems; rural concerns aren’t addressed and the governance structures remain overly complex.

“We remain focussed on achieving the best outcomes for our communities and hope the government will engage in further discussion to understand and resolve our concerns.”

Timaru, Waimate and Mackenzie District Councils are among the 31 members of Communities 4 Local Democracy He hapori mō te Manapori. The group is is the local government action group campaigning for better reform for three waters.

For more information about its proposals visit

Last updated: 10 Mar 2022