THOMAS CRANMER: Questions remain over the appointment of Tuku Morgan

Many questions remain unanswered about the appointment of Tuku Morgan to his new Three Waters role, and the reforms are set to speed up once this Bill is passed into law.  THOMAS CRANMER writes – 

Four weeks after Tuku Morgan issued a press statement confirming that he had been appointed as chairperson of the entity A iwi representative group for Three Waters questions still remain as to the process for that appointment. It also remains unclear why it was considered appropriate to appoint Morgan to a role within entity A when he had represented entity B in working group discussions only months earlier.

As well as confirming his new role, Morgan’s statement included the following:

“While it is easy and convenient for Auckland Council and Watercare to keep increasing the water take from our awa tupuna to supply water to Taamaki Makaurau, it is not sustainable.”

Following the announcement I asked the Department of Internal Affairs for some details about Morgan’s appointment process. A spokesperson responded:

The Entity A Iwi Regional Representative Group has been formed by mana whenua within the Entity A service delivery area in advance of the formation of, and appointments to, the Entity A Regional Representative Group provided for under the Water Services Entities Bill.

As such, your questions should be put to the Entity A Iwi Regional Representative Group or the relevant equivalent groups in the other three waters service delivery areas, where they have formed.

For clarity, Mr Morgan has not been appointed as a member of the Entity A Regional Representative Group.

I asked DIA for a contact email address for the entity A iwi representative group and was provided with a contact at Waikato-Tainui. I put the same questions to Waikato-Tainui and have not received a response to my email.

Act MP Simon Court asked a similar question to Minister Mahuta and, as you can see below, the answer totally fails to respond to the question. In fact the Minister responds with details about the set-up of the regional representative groups, when the question relates to Morgan’s appointment to an iwi regional representative group:

So we really are no clearer as to how or why Morgan was appointed to the entity A iwi regional representative group. Is this a temporary role, or will Morgan move onto the entity A regional representative group once it is formed?

Finding out some simple details about Morgan’s appointment process should be straight-forward. The fact that it seems to be shrouded in secrecy gives more weight to the concerns raised by the Auditor-General about the lack of mechanisms in the structure to allow for “effective public scrutiny and accountability”.

The AG also raised concerns about the “unique governance structure” and for the need for roles to be clarified.

However, when it has come to the setting up of these iwi regional representative groups, it seems that the AG’s concerns have been totally ignored. Whilst transitional groups are undoubtedly necessary, there has been no effective public communication giving some basic details about the appointment process, individuals selected or the role of the groups.

It should be noted that once the Water Services Entities Bill is passed by Parliament and becomes law, we will enter the ‘establishment period’ as defined in Schedule 1 of the Bill which will allow for the establishment of entities and systems, and the transfer of employers to occur.

Amongst other things, this will allow Minister Mahuta and the National Transition Unit to set up four Local Establishment Entities (LEEs). All current council employees who work primarily in water services and who are union members, and whose work is covered by a collective agreement, will transfer to the LEEs on 1 January 2023.

On 1 July 2024, these four LEEs will become the water services entities. More details are set out on this DIA page.

During the establishment period each local government organisation will be statutorily required to co-operate with government in order to facilitate the reforms in accordance with section 11(1) of Schedule 1 of the current Bill:

During the establishment period, a local government organisation must co-operate with the department and any relevant water services entity to facilitate the water services reform.

Thus once the Water Services Entities Bill becomes law, in the next week or so, we can expect the pace of the reforms to pick up.

2 thoughts on “THOMAS CRANMER: Questions remain over the appointment of Tuku Morgan

  1. This doesn’t augur well for transparency and accountability in Mahuta’s 3/5 Waters system, just as the Auditor-General warned the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee. A total crock.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Corrupt practices and an opaque appointment process, if indeed there is any process, should be investigated by not only the AG, but also the SFO. and possibly the NZ Police.
    This is a disgusting situation created by Mahuta and her cohort.

    Liked by 2 people

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