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Ngāi Tahu Invites South Island Councils To Work Together On Water Services

Ngāi Tahu kaiwhakahaere Justin Tipa invited South Island councils to work together and with the iwi to collectively address the challenge of ensuring safe, affordable, and sustainable water services at today’s Local Government New Zealand conference.

“We understand the consequences of historical underinvestment affecting many South Island council districts in the takiwā, and have felt the effects especially in our own communities,” Mr Tipa said. “Around a third of Ngāi Tahu marae lack reticulated water supplies, and the status quo in freshwater management including storm and wastewater has comprehensively failed our traditional waterways and lands.”

“As tangata whenua we are permanent residents of the South Island and so want to be part of the solution, just as in the past we have played a key part in the emergency response to the Canterbury and Kaikoura earthquakes and the Christchurch rebuild.”

Ngāi Tahu has unparalleled research-based knowledge of the hydrology in the takiwā, which holds over 75% of New Zealand’s freshwater systems, as well as existing relationships working constructively with councils.

“The new government has said the status quo for water services is unsustainable and that councils need to adopt new ways of doing things, in particular collectively,” Mr Tipa said. “The South Island in particular has a number of geographically spread out districts with low population bases, which risk being left behind.”

“Because Ngāi Tahu has existing constructive working relationships with all councils in the South Island, and the government, we are well placed to help councils coordinate a new approach to working together.”

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“The government has been very keen for councils to investigate new funding options and opportunities, and we believe Ngāi Tahu, as one of the largest investors in the South Island, has the expertise to assist with this as well.”

Ngāi Tahu has a history of partnering with councils and government on environmental management and development projects, and there may be opportunities for commercial investments or other partnerships under the new water services regime, Mr Tipa said.

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