13 June 2024

Opinion: ‘Want best deal for city, I don’t support current reform plan,’ says Mayor

By: Paula Southgate

I have always believed that across New Zealand we need some change to the way our precious water is managed. All Kiwis, no matter where they live, deserve clean, safe, drinking water. It is not acceptable for our lakes, rivers, or harbours to be contaminated by wastewater or stormwater systems. I stand by that.  However, I do not support the current reform proposal.

I also know that New Zealanders are very mindful of the cost of water services because that cost is paid by ratepayers.  The reality is that those costs are rising yet the ability for people to pay those costs, are not. 

The reform of water services is an extremely complex discussion and poor communication from the government has not helped. Three Waters reform is not a Council-led programme.  The whole reform programme has been led and driven by central Government. 

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate is spearheading the Council’s efforts to involve community in providing feedback on Three Waters Reforms that will enable the Council to shape its final submissions to Government. On her part, she is striving to get ‘the very best deal for “Hamiltonians”. In this exclusive write-up for NewsViews, she lays the whole issue threadbare and presents her opinion on the issue.


What our Council has tried to do, all the way along, is work very hard to influence the outcomes and get the very best deal for Hamilton. Some of our feedback has been taken on board but not all of it.

All Councillors have challenged the Government’s current proposal, which would see Hamilton as part of one of four mega entities, managing water services nationwide. All Councillors disagreed with the way assets were to be completely transferred (noting the debt would also be transferred).We all sought much greater local voice and control and we very actively fought for changes.

Just a few weeks ago, Government made the final form of its proposed reform very clear.

We needed to see that final proposal before going out for public consultation; otherwise, any consultation would have wasted a considerable amount of money. We needed to understand the detail and I personally, could see no sense in going out twice, at additional cost, to ratepayers. Some Councillors disagreed. That is politics.

But now we do know exactly what Government is proposing and now we can – and are asking for community feedback.


Hamilton City Council is conducting an independent survey and undertaking widespread community engagement. Please get involved!  I hope people in our community will take the opportunity to read the information in the consultation document and have their say.Read More...

Paula Southgate, Mayor, Hamilton

Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this column, ViewPoint are the personal opinions of the writer, and do not reflect the views of NewsViews nor does it ascribe to these in any manner.  


  1. Process of submitting feedback is too complex, heaps of info to read, understand… Why can’t council just hold a Yes or No poll – ask NewsViews to do it?

  2. It’s all about making tax payers pay more for water and yet another way for this govt to control people. They think everyone is dumb….

  3. I think control needs to be taken off councils. Too many years of deferring essential spending so favourite projects get money instead.

  4. No one wants these dumb reforms – except those in seat of power at centre who are hell bent on pushing it through.

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