A Word with Central Otago District Mayor Tim Cadogan

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Water reform numbers staggering, questionable

Last month I said I would write on changes affecting small drinking-water suppliers but that will have to wait, sorry, because last week the Government made some big announcements.

These include its reckonings on what the gap between what it will cost each household if CODC opts out of the water reforms as opposed to joining in; and those numbers are both staggering and questionable.

The Government figures go out 30 years to 2051 and claim each household will then be facing a staggering $7790 compared to $1070 now.

Those figures were only announced last week; there is more background information to come and we have yet to get a full understanding of how they have been arrived at.

Good work done by the CODC in the past is reflected by that $7790 figure being significantly less than predicted for most of our immediate neighbours, but that doesn’t make it any less shocking.

In terms of the decision for the end of the year, a comparison between opting out of the reforms or not is obviously a hugely significant part of the equation.

According to the Government figures, that $7790 figure drops to $1640pa.

I am not the only mayor shaking their head at that massive difference, but I will be waiting for supporting evidence and some independent advice before making a final decision.

The Government also announced our services would be managed (if we are “in”) under the “Ngai Tahu takiwa” or tribal area model.

I have had people approach me very nervous about iwi involvement in reforms, but the reality is that Ngai Tahu have the right to be involved, both through the Treaty and the iwi’s settlement with the Crown.

These were agreements made 181 and 23 years ago respectively and, to me, a deal is a deal so let’s get on with it.

But let’s be clear, Ngai Tahu have stated very plainly and openly that the iwi does not want any ownership of the new entity or the infrastructure, just a governance voice alongside councils.

We are fortunate to be working alongside one iwi rather than many and the takiwa-based model reflects the benefit of that.

Importantly, iwi involvement in the governance model provides a safeguard to one of the biggest concerns about the reforms, which is privatisation further down the track.