Four days ago the Minister for Local Government, Nanaia Mahuta, made comments to Waatea News that betray an appalling lack of empathy with the people of New Zealand. An article was published over the Public Interest Journalism logo (the one that tells us they reflect the government’s views, because their journalists take our money).

The Minister for Local Government, Nanaia Mahuta, says the benefits of the Three Waters proposals will far outweigh any disadvantages. Opposition to the scheme to shift management of fresh water, waste water and storm water infrastructure to four large regional entities was a major feature of the local government elections. Ms Mahuta says some of the opposition seemed to be driven not about economics or effectiveness but racist tropes about co-governance. “People who are often commenting on co-governance really don’t want Maori sitting around the table but this is the new reality of improved decision-making,” she says. Minister Mahuta says Maori will bring a much-needed emphasis on long-term sustainability to water management – which is good for all New Zealanders.

Waatea News

Surely the Minister’s right. The only reason to oppose the government’s generous confiscation of up to $185 billion dollars without compensation for community water system assets paid for by generations of our grandparents and great-grandparents is because we’re racists. What else could it be?

The NZ Centre for Political Research has published much excellent material on Three Waters. We are glad that improved decision-making is one of the many benefits Mahuta promises will come from the Three Waters project. It’s unfortunate we blindly reject it just because we hate Maoris.

We don’t think the complex, gargantuan, race-based management structure will be problematic. We don’t think the separation of the assets from the local councils who built them will increase costs.

We think that giving iwi a controlling influence over water at every level, from the water regulator, to the regional representative groups, to water services boards, and even to the regulation of local water supplies, will ensure their utmost devotion to keeping costs down and the system running smoothly. It comforts us.

We’re confident that all of those iwi, whom everybody knows are as one mind in every department of life and enthusiastic to serve us, will apply themselves rigorously to the welfare of our communities and never contemplate their own advancement or profit.

Appointing your sister, Tipa, chairman of the Maori Advisory Board that gives orders to the new water regulator was motivated by Tipa’s deep knowledge of water regulation.

What does worry us is that the iwi generally, though they must know tikanga, matauranga Maori, and Te Ao Maori just to get the job, know nothing of the water supply system. How will they know what to do with sewage treatment and stormwater? Are they skilled water engineers?

We know they’re not qualified to do the work but you’ve given them the power to control everything. We’re worried sick about that.

But it’s hardly racist.

Thank you for pointing out that Maoris will bring much-needed emphasis on long-term sustainability to water management.

We didn’t think of that. Neither did our great-grandparents.

FOOTNOTE None of the links in the article work so I couldn’t hear the recordings apparently on offer.