Three Waters advertising horrifies mayors

Waimate Mayor Craig Rowley. Photo: ODT files
Waimate Mayor Craig Rowley. Photo: ODT files
The Government’s new Three Waters advertising campaign shows a "complete lack of respect for local government", Waimate Mayor Craig Rowley says.

Mr Rowley, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher and others mayors across the South Island are calling for the Government to suspend or withdraw its new campaign running across TV, online, social media and print.

Councils across New Zealand have been working with the Government to review the management of drinking water, stormwater and wastewater. The Government plans to take some functions away from councils, create water entities and move oversight responsibilities to a new regulator.

The new advertisements, running as part of the Government’s Three Waters public awareness and information campaign, ask people to "imagine Aotearoa without good water", and feature cartoon people and creatures in and around green-coloured water.

Mr Rowley described the campaign as "appalling".

"The photos of people swimming in green sludge, it’s just sensationalising it and I don’t believe it’s very helpful at all," he said.

"It just shows the lack of understanding from central government about the delivery of the Three Waters, and our real serious concerns about the whole process."

Waitaki mayor Gary Kircher. Photo: ODT files
Waitaki mayor Gary Kircher. Photo: ODT files
With more than $70 million of Three Waters assets on the line for the Waimate district, Mr Rowley said it was important ratepayers understood "exactly what this reform will mean and the direct and indirect impacts" and were alert to misleading information and jargon.

"We want to see some transparency and honesty around the delivery of the service and the costs associated with it, and until that time, the ratepayers are only getting one side of the story.

"We’ll continue to call for more answers and once we have them, we’ll be able to inform our communities and help them to understand what a very complex issue it is."

Mr Kircher, who also chairs Local Government New Zealand’s provincial group, said the campaign reminded him of "propaganda-type posters".

"Yes, there are problems for many ratepayers with the affordability of water in the future, and there are definitely some councils which have made politically expedient decisions to put off necessary work that their ratepayers will now have to pay much more for, but let’s tell that story accurately, not with emotional, extreme propaganda."

A Department of Internal Affairs spokesman said the advertising campaign was "designed specifically to create a sense of shared responsibility and to look at the issues from a New Zealand-wide perspective".

"It is acknowledged that the challenges are different in different parts of the country, but without urgent reform, over time, many of our communities will face unaffordable costs and water services and infrastructure will continue to face unacceptable levels of decline," the spokesman said.



Too many NZ TLA’s have failed to provide safe drinking water (e.g. Havelock North - waterborne disease; Dunedin City- lead contamination); clean treated stormwater - DCC, properly treated sewage, QLDC. Reticulation and infrastructure has been allowed to fall into disrepair while scarce resources have been pumped into cycle ways and sculptures. Sadly many of our TLA’s have neither the expertise or qualified staff to do the job. This is a situation where intervention by the Government is long overdue .

You forgot to add the tax payer paying for it......

So the govt. is engineering consent from a skeptical nation. There is nothing new here, we are supposed to be living in a representative democracy but we don't, we live in a dictatorship. Local and central govt. ignore referendums and this "awareness and information campaign" is nothing less than social engineering and propaganda.

So long as this doesn't lead to privatisation of water.

We MUST retain ownership of our water and water-related assets!

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