INVERCARGILL City Council has declined the invitation from an alternative Three Waters ”pushback” group which aims to advocate for a different solution to the reforms.
Invercargill Deputy Mayor Nobby Clark filed a notice of motion during the infrastructural services committee meeting on Tuesday, asking the council to consider joining a group of councils, led by the Manawatu District Council.
In order to join the group, each provincial council would contribute $15,000 to a campaign fund which would be held in trust and administered by the Timaru District Council under the oversight and direction of the wider group.
Among the points in the proposal which the group did not agree with was that councils would cross subsidise each other, the loss of ownership of assets and the “co-governance” model with mana whenua, which Cr Clark described as further undermining the local control.
Council’s mana whenua representative Evelyn Cook showed concern about the wording used by him to characterise the involvement of mana whenua on the water bodies.
“We are local. We have been local for more than 500 years. We are also ratepayers, we are also business investors.
“I do not see mana whenua sitting in a group should be seen as not being part of an open and democratic process.”
She urged the group to revise the wording and said the inclusion of the group should be seen as progress and not a threat.
Chairman Ian Pottinger asked if her worries were about the Memorandum of Understanding of the lobby group, but she said she would reserve her comments.
Cr Rebecca Amundsen said she did not intend to support the group if they were challenging the co-governance model.
Cr Soper believed council should not spend the money in a group of which they were not quite sure of its intentions, nor which other councils would be part of.
Cr Allan Arnold supported the motion as he believed it was the responsibility of the council to fight for the assets invested with ratepayer money.
“I think it is our duty to do all we can to preserve the assets that our community has paid for and, you know, worked for for the last hundred and so years.”
The motion was defeated with Crs Arnold, Clark, Pottinger, Graham Lewis and Nigel Skelt voting to join the lobby group.