Dear Mayor, Councillors, CEO, Minister David Parker, Minister Nanaia Mahuta and MP Stuart Smith,
Climate Karanga Marlborough (CKM) is a local climate action group purposing “to persuade elected representatives and their officials to pursue policies designed to limit the extent of rapid climate change and help New Zealanders to adapt to its consequences”. We are particularly concerned about the impacts of climate change on the natural environment and biodiversity of which we human beings are just a part, albeit a governing part.
Our members recently had a meeting to discuss the 3 Waters proposals and the position taken by Marlborough District Council (MDC). We know submissions have closed but wanted to send this letter to express our general support for the Council’s position.
The health of all New Zealand waters is inextricably entangled with climate change and its impacts. If human beings do not contribute to the good health of water by mitigating pollution and thus climate change, the environment will suffer and so will all the species both in it and on it, including ourselves.
In the matter of the Government’s proposed Three Waters Bill, we support 5 principles:
Although the urgency to manage ‘our waters’ becomes evidently ever more acute with every weather disaster that occurs, we urge the government to pause and acknowledge the weight of response to their proposals. It is critical they listen and openly adapt to those responses. The failure to bring on board a large proportion of local Councils does not bode well for success. Having read some of C4LD, the collective local councils submission, to which the MDC subscribed, we think that the Government could give a clearer and more detailed explanation of its thinking to the general public as well as to local bodies, including clarity around the engineering, financial and cultural accountabilities of the new entities. It is important that separate issues of water reform, local governance and Treaty obligations are not conflated.
We believe some centralisation of engineering services to ensure that all councils have access to good advice and that no projects proceed without independent assessment and engineering audit will significantly improve outcomes.
In summary, Climate Karanga Marlborough proposes the 5 principles above in supporting nation-wide reforms of water care in Aotearoa New Zealand.
This is a critical time for rebuilding the partnership between central and local government. While central government provides standards and support, we believe it needs to avoid dictating how local and regional communities and institutions apply their different solutions to their own care of New Zealand waters. Cooperation, forbearance and flexibility will be key.
In particular, from a local viewpoint, we support the position of the Marlborough District Council as laid out in its submission dated the 20 July, 2022 to the Finance and Expenditure Committee on Water Services Entities Bill.
We expect clarity and transparency in public of all governmental decision-making.
Finally, we comment that nobody can own water any more than we own the air we breathe; rather, we owe water, air and the land we stand on due care and responsibility.
Otherwise, climate, land, sea and the planet altogether will make their own decisions for us and despite us, as we have all been experiencing at home and abroad.
Yours, Don Quick, Budyong Hill and Bill McEwan for CKM.