The newly formed campaign group is taking its concerns about Three Waters to Parliament this week.
Ōpōtiki is one of 23 local councils that are part of the campaign group, Communities 4 Local Democracy - He hapori mō te Manapori, that says it represents more than a million New Zealanders in its serious concerns about the Government’s Three Waters reforms.
Mayor Lyn Riesterer says she was not in Wellington as part of the delegation of about a dozen mayors and other elected representatives taking the group’s message to meetings with National, ACT and the Green Party.
Lyn told Local Democracy Reporting she's busy with meetings and workshops with the council in Ōpōtiki.
She says she's pleased to hear that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern contacted one of the mayors in the group on Tuesday night to say she would meet with the group to hear their concerns sometime in February.
“This is one of the things we had asked for with our joint letter to her last month.”
Lyn says the Communities 4 Local Democracy is a multi-faceted campaign “but the main concern is with the four entities model” of the Three Waters reform.
“There is no problem with there being reform. There is no problem with there being an independent water regulator. There ought to have been one years ago. This is progress.
“It’s the four entities model. Quite frankly, it’s something that the majority of councils were opposed to when they put their submissions in to the Department of Internal Affairs. Most of those councils put forward alternatives. Then, of course, it was mandated.”
Ōpōtiki elected members decided to join the campaign led by Manawatū Mayor Helen Worboys on November 16 when they signed a Memorandum of Understanding between partner councils in relation to the Three Waters Campaign.
Days later they also added their signatures to a joint letter to the prime minister expressing their disappointment with the proposed legislation and seeking a meeting.
A media release sent out yesterday said for the group of 23 councils from around the country, the main concern of the campaign is losing control of approximately $60 billion of community-owned assets.
“Like the Government, we want to ensure all New Zealanders have access to safe drinking water and we are committed to working with the Government to achieve that,” the campaign’s chairwoman, Ms Worboys says.
“No-one disputes the need for investment, but there’s a better way to achieve the Government’s objectives and we want to work in partnership with them on that,” she says.
“Our action group will introduce fresh ideas for better water. But our fresh ideas will ensure that our local communities continue to have a say on how the assets that they have bought and paid for are used to achieve our health and environmental goals.
“This is an inclusive campaign – it’s about safe drinking water for all New Zealanders, whoever and wherever they are. More meaningful Mana Whenua representation is an important part of that. It’s also an apolitical campaign – we’re completely focused on the issue regardless of political affiliation.”
Ms Worboys says Communities 4 Local Democracy was commissioning expert advice on alternative models that might achieve the objectives of Government and local communities and will be sharing its findings when they are complete.