People were celebrating the government caving in over the Rotorua Maori-mander where non-Maori would have had just 39% of the voting power of Maori. They were calling it co-governance but it was anything but. It turns out they were celebrating prematurely

While Jacinda Ardern has been flouncing around the cafes of Tairua, the Deputy Prime Minister, Grant Robertson, and Nanaia Mahuta have announced that they are pressing ahead with the confiscation of Council water assets, and are hell-bent on foisting a co-governance agenda, as outlined in the previously secret He Puapua document. Come hell or high water, co-governance is coming at you fast.

You knew it was going to be bad news for ordinary Kiwis when the Prime Minister would rather be in Tairua than making an announcement of such massive proportions, and when the first 20 minutes of the announcement was entirely in Maori.

The government has accepted 44 of the three waters working group’s 47 recommendations for changes to its water infrastructure reform programme, with minor changes.

Speaking from the Pataka Art and Museum in Porirua, north of Wellington, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson have this morning laid out next steps.

The reforms would move responsibility for the management of drinking, waste and stormwater from 67 local councils to four large, specialised water management organisations.

However, after months of deliberations, they confirmed councils would be given non-financial shareholding interests in the four water service entities, guaranteeing ownership – one of the key concerns raised over the government’s initial model.

This would be allocated based on population – with one share per 50,000 people, rounded up to ensure at least one share per council – and would be reassessed to account for population changes every five years.

The co-governance provisions proposed – to have mana whenua and councils given equal number of seats on a representation group which sets the entities strategic direction but has no say in operational matters – would remain, with the additional option of having co-chairs.

This is what that word soup looks like:

Note that what the government is proposing is to take all your water assets, split it in half, then allocate shares based on population just on the half that is non-Maori.

Why is only the non-Maori part based on population?

This is why I call it a Maori-mander. If you thought that the Rotorua proposal was bad, this co-governance model is many multitudes worse than that.

Take Auckland for instance: right now Council (you) owns 100% of the water assets. With 3 Waters they have that pared down to just 45% of what they previously owned. Worse they get just 28.5% say over those same assets:

Auckland Council will contribute 93% of the assets to the northernmost regional entity, and have a 90% shareholding based on population, but only a minority 4 seats out of 14 on the Regional Representative Group.

What the government have done is steal your assets, give half to one group based on the race of someone’s ancestors, then divvied up the rest, and they are telling you this will be better for you, and cheaper. That’s the same argument they used for creating the Super City, and we all know how that’s worked out. Cheaper it ain’t.

Muriel Newman pointed out ages ago the whole structure has failed in Scotland in terms of the ability for the public to get any action when they have problems – i.e. it’s a remote large bureaucracy. That alone will tell you that this proposal will fail spectacularly. Add in 50% Maori control and no one will be able to ever make any decisions – where is the accountability?  All of that also ignores the blatant theft and redistribution of public assets. And don’t forget that the top table gang have to have 75% to pass anything so that is the effective Maori veto right there.

If Tamati Coffey’s Rotorua Bill failed on discrimination then this one is manyfold worse.

Will David Parker adhere to the Bill of Rights as he did on the Rotorua bill?

He is known as a straight shooter, so he probably will have the liberal elites in Labour pressuring him to break the law rather than come out against co-governance.

One thing is abundantly clear, though: this government is the most divisive we have ever seen. The good news is that they seem to want to fight an election on this. I imagine that vast sums of money are going to flow into the coffers of ACT and NZ First who will capitalise on this.

National would be really, really stupid to even contemplate agreeing to this Maori-mander. Sadly, there are no guarantees with the wet and woke leadership of National.

This confiscation of assets must be opposed vociferously. We are going to need to force a referendum on the issue; otherwise, they’ll just ram it through with their majority.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news,...