Commissioner wants impartial Three Waters reform

Stephen Selwood, far right, says he will be impartial on Three Waters reform. Photo. John Borren.

A Tauranga City Council commissioner insists he will act in the best interests of the city when it comes to Three Waters reform.

His comments come after a local lobbying group called for him to step aside from any reform amid claims of impartiality issues.

Council will consider and approve a response to the initial Three Waters feedback request to the Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta at next Monday’s Council meeting.

The Government asked for feedback from local government regarding plans to transfer management of New Zealand’s three water services - drinking water, wastewater and stormwater - from the 67 local councils to four regional entities before the end of September. Councils have not yet been asked to commit to any reform programme

The plans have received pushback from some members of the community, especially as the current Commission appointed to Council were done so by Minister Mahuta.

Lobbying group the Tauranga Ratepayers Alliance, whose steering group contains several previously elected Councillors, believe this represents a potential conflict of interest – especially in the case of Stephen Selwood.

They suggest he has long advocated water amalgamation and is already in agreement with Mahuta on the issue. They believe Selwood should abstain from any vote related to the issue.

“If you have a potential conflict of interest, you stand aside,” says TRA spokesman Philip Brown.

“That’s a principle of good governance.

“If Selwood won’t stand down, he should at least take the opportunity to publicly rule out accepting any future position on a new water entity.

“If Mr Selwood fails to step aside, he is opening up the Council, and ratepayers, to huge cost if the decision is challenged via judicial review.  He has to come to these decisions without predetermination. Clearly he can’t.”

However, Selwood says he will only be acting in the best interest of the Council and the city they represent and would be mindful of any potential conflict of interest.

“All commissioners bring specialised knowledge and experience to the council table,” says Selwood.

“But it is a fundamental requirement of the governance role that we keep an open mind, listen to the views of others, consider the evidence and make informed decisions in the best interests of the city and the community.

“That’s exactly the process I am following on this and every other matter that comes before me.

“When the council is called upon to make a decision, if there was any possibility of a perceived conflict of interest, I would seek and take the advice of my fellow commissioners as to my involvement.”

The Commissioner also clarifies that, at this stage, Council has not yet been asked to make any decisions on Three Waters reform.

“The commissioners have actively sought and received feedback from the community and will be passing that on to the Government, along with the Council’s views and those of Te Rangapu Mana Whenua o Tauranga Moana,” he states.

Council’s report to Commissioners, to be presented on Monday does highlight several concerns over Three Waters reform. These include the clarity of messaging to the public, the ability for Council to influence the new regional entity, details on transfer of assets and debt and more.

Local Government New Zealand have also highlighted several areas of improvement before the model can be deliverable based on the feedback received in the discovery stage.

“We knew from the start that a centrally developed model was only going to work if it included on-the-ground governance and operational insights from councils,” says LGNZ president Stuart Crosby, himself the former Mayor of Tauranga.

Their key areas of concern include governance and accountability, local voice and prioritization, integration with the planning system, Rural Water Schemes: and iwi/Māori co-governance.

Crosby says it is now up to Government to respond to these concerns, but is pleased the sectors are is working in partnership.

“As expected, this period has been noisy, challenging and messy – and it has got us exactly where we need to be to take this forward,” he says.

“Given our new partnership, we look forward to seeing local and central government working collaboratively to address these issues, and ultimately put a model in front of the public that is fit for purpose in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

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Posted on 06-10-2021 12:43 | By Kancho

Is not the preserve of Maori, it affects lots of people mostly the poor so not necessarily race at all. Of course all people are different but not in the sense of aspirations of family, achievements or opportunities afford to all. I worked in South Auckland for twenty years with a lot of Maori colleagues. Race was never a thing we worked together and laughed together. I’m sure if I had asked they would be indignant to suggest they were marginialised or den

kancho, there is your problem.

Posted on 06-10-2021 08:57 | By R. Bell

You see all people as being the same, no difference. Sadly you are as wrong as it is possible to be. The Treaty of Waitangi recognised the difference you claim does not exist. Maori in general recognise the difference and have never relinquished the rights contained in that document and later acts of parliament. To ignore those absolutes is to condemn Maori to yet another period of marginalisation. All NZ governments are bound to recognise the Maori right to participate in co governance of the countries assets. Your reference to democracy is equally flawed, there is no single model of democracy, it has puzzled philosophers for thousands of years, so you appear to know best, yeah right. Finally the only separatism is in your mind and those of your nationalistic buddies. The treaty stands as a beacon to more liberal and compromising people, who are the majority after all.

The thing is

Posted on 05-10-2021 11:58 | By Kancho

I'm a citizen who doesn't see people being different . All citizens are equal and have equal opportunity equal rights. Health , education, housing, everything is available to all and no labels, which are in fact racist. The systems in place are all according to need so the fact Maori have more need is already catered for. The Maori I know and in my family take opportunities to improve by education and training and don't need to claim labels or be historical victims . I see opportunity as equal for all and always has been in my life experience. So throwing your aspersions again makes me smile. Same as water governance should not be racist in governance. So the proposal is not democratic and is separatist, driven by elitist. Even the UN reports indicate this as a threat to democracy.

You are dreaming again kancho.

Posted on 05-10-2021 09:00 | By R. Bell

Total council debt is currently 20 billion dollars. Auckland alone is close to 12 billion with 25% water related, that equates to 4 billion of debt water related. I t is crippling most councils in NZ. Please tell your gasping fans just what "big impact" 800 million would have on 67 councils total debt. Falling back on your tired "separatism" claim is as pathetic as your inability to understand "targeted health and education" get a grip man. This issue will resolve itself with debate and consultation, just as it always "painfully does"


Posted on 04-10-2021 13:22 | By Kancho

Of course there are alternatives. Councils largely do a good but could get much more support from the government . They could take the near 800 million from the silly cycle bridge in Auckland to make big impact on councils financial position re infrastructure. They are deliberately pushing through consultant is a nonsense and I predict a huge backlash. They clearly didn’t take this to the electorate pre election. That governance model by race and not by experience or skills is unacceptable, the ratepayers laid for and own the infrastructure. This is seperatism, Maori health, Maori housing etc all seperatism. All citizens have equal rights to services and concentration on certain failing is fine but not by race. Equal opportunity has existed for fifty years or more but going backwards

The Trump machine

Posted on 03-10-2021 15:59 | By R. Bell

could not have done a better job of undermining public confidence in three waters than the Sunlive knocking shop. Shifting the emphasis from desperately needed water reform to a politically motivated rejection by all the usual specimens. NO alternatives offered, just rubbish everything and claim democracy is being attacked. Worked for Donald so it can work for us, RIGHT? Sorry guys just take a look at what happens when people wake up, and realise the misinformation even lies just don’t add up. The reason ( informed) that the National party hasn’t explained anything is because they have no better plan, nor does the new poster boy of the right Seymore. Let’s all get behind the government and MAKE it work for our future generations. As in Scotland, we will not regret it.

Also an on line petition

Posted on 02-10-2021 09:22 | By Kancho


Posted on 02-10-2021 07:12 | By Major Oranje

Nobody voted for these corrupt "commissioners". They do not represent anyone other than the anti democratic Labour Party.

Time to Exercise Your Democratic Right To Protest

Posted on 01-10-2021 20:41 | By Ziggaty

TCC is holding a closed meeting this Monday over 3 Waters. There’s a demonstration planned for 9.00am Monday the 4th at Willow Street Council building Tauranga. Wear your mask and stay in groups of 100. If your group gets too big make another one. Bring your placard and your voice. Be heard. Time to get off your backsides and fight for your democratic rights Tauranga.


Posted on 01-10-2021 19:16 | By Informed

It’s a real shame that the National government has done a terrible job at explaining the need and benefits of centralising 3 waters. I believe the commissioners are trying to do the right thing, even though most people don’t understand what is at stake here. That said, the current approach to 3 waters doesn’t represent the best approach to give kiwis healthy water to drink.

To The Commissioners

Posted on 01-10-2021 16:56 | By john boy

I know you have been handed this fabulous job with fantastic pay (that most rate payers could only dream of) but you are there representing the rate payers so you have a moral right to listen to them, and the word is loud and clear NO TO THREE WATERS

Agree with Ziggaty

Posted on 01-10-2021 15:16 | By Kancho

Support what we have with loans tax money etc. To be fair Terry Hall they are saying no privation of water. The power reform admitted wasn’t a good result for the consumers who now don’t own the infrastructure and prices up and not controlled and shares sold in Australia stock markets and here. Worse our power will go up as we don’t have a stable grid and burning record amounts Indonesian coal to plug the gaps. Terrible to import from such poorly regulated dangerous mines

A pack of socialist wolves

Posted on 01-10-2021 13:16 | By Kauritatahi

...... kill off all the roosters and appoint 4 foxes to manage the hen house. Now one of the foxes claims that he has the best interest of the hens at heart........ Sure...... ! :-)

I always worry...

Posted on 01-10-2021 12:42 | By morepork

...when someone with an obviously vested interest says: "Don’t worry, I’ll be impartial...". This is obviously another nail in the coffin of our Democracy, which is slowly being laid to rest by this government.

get rid

Posted on 01-10-2021 12:39 | By terry hall

they are going down the same track as bradford yrars ago sell off the electricity, now its water privatiation cost increase, but what do you expect from a communist thinking PM and government, she should have the title commerade not PM.


Posted on 01-10-2021 12:28 | By Ziggaty

Tauranga has the best water filtration system in all of the Southern Hemisphere. There is nothing wrong with water quality. The thought of these 3 Water entities spending over $200 Billion dollars when labours accumulated debt of $120 Billion already attracts some $6 Billion in interest repayments each year is scary. It would be far cheaper to for central government to provide loans to local government. Havelock, the area Labour is using as example of poor water, was fixed for a mere $80 Million. It’s a NO to 3 Waters. It just does not make sense. If I took this business plan to my Bank Manager they would kick me out of their office and close my account. This caretaker council has no right to make these decisions which, at minimum, should go to a referendum to ratepayers.


Posted on 01-10-2021 12:14 | By overit

Well we dont want it, especially nice words from an unelected Govt. puppet. We cannot even relate our angst over this, powerless Ratepayers.

No elected ?

Posted on 01-10-2021 12:11 | By an_alias

Come on, if your not elected by the people or in fact ask the people what they want its a farce. Who has appointed you $1800 a day is the one you will answer to. We only have to look at your response recently saying we don’t want certain people elected so please can we stay on and keep getting paid.


Posted on 01-10-2021 10:38 | By dumbkof2

how can i get a job that pays $1800 a day just to say yes mahuta we back your ideas


Posted on 01-10-2021 09:07 | By Let's get real

If it’s not put to the electorate as a referendum it would make an extremely interesting court case. Unelected governors and a tribal group who would make up half of the committee speaking for ratepayers and doling out ratepayers assets like it’s a lolly scramble....?

Have to laugh

Posted on 01-10-2021 07:59 | By Kancho

Do the commissioners really think they are impartial as government appointees. Hardly going to bite the hand that feeds them

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