THOMAS CRANMER: Mahuta ditches the ‘no surprises’ policy

As Cabinet Ministers have been blindsided by developments in the Three Waters legislation, the events of last Wednesday night give a glimpse of the power politics that are at play within government.  THOMAS CRANMER writes: 

As the furore over the government’s attempted entrenchment of the anti-privatisation provision within the Three Waters legislation continues to buffer the government, Ministers could be forgiven for thinking that their ‘no surprises’ policy has been replaced with something rather more dramatic.

Last week, the Prime Minister was blindsided when Barry Soper asked for an explanation about the expansion of elements of the reforms to include geothermal and coastal waters. Ministers Robertson and Woods similarly both confessed to not knowing anything about the change. It gave the impression of a Cabinet that had lost its grip on Three Waters. More broadly, it raised questions as to who is actually in charge. Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER: Mahuta ditches the ‘no surprises’ policy”

THOMAS CRANMER: Government ducks Bill of Rights assessment on Three Waters bill

While politicians and commentators raise concerns about the race-based nature of the Three (or Five) Waters reforms, the government has produced its Bill of Rights analysis which is superficial and slapdash at best.  THOMAS CRANMER writes –

It may come as a surprise to some that the government has already obtained legal advice from the Ministry of Justice and the Crown Law Office to scrutinize whether the Water Services Entities Bill is consistent with the Bill of Rights Act. In fact the advice was considered by Cabinet at the end of May, and was then quietly published on the Ministry of Justice’s website.

Given the racial component to the proposed co-governance structure of Three Waters and to the Te Mana o te Wai statements, which confer broad rights exclusively on mana whenua, that advice would seem to be highly relevant to the current public debate regarding the suitability of the reforms. Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER: Government ducks Bill of Rights assessment on Three Waters bill”

THOMAS CRANMER: King Tut – the Tuhoe strongman who boasts of the National Park that disappeared

“We made a national park disappear” are the words of the Te Urewera chairman, Tamati Kruger – or as his iwi call him, King Tut.  Kruger’s triumph is an ominous portent to the consequences of the co-governance concept which the Ardern government champions.  THOMAS CRANMER writes – 

The High Court ruling last week that ordered an immediate halt to the burning of the huts in Te Urewera revealed some astonishing detail about what has gone wrong with the co-governance arrangements that were agreed in 2014.

The principal iwi negotiator for Tūhoe at the time was Tamati Kruger. Since then, he has gone on to be the chairman of Te Uru Taumatua (TUT), the Tūhoe governance body for Te Urewera. Kruger is a divisive figure – even within Tūhoe. In fact, the applicant for the emergency injunction to stop the huts being destroyed – Wharenui Clyde Tuna – is Tūhoe himself.

One of the revelations to emerge from last week’s injunction was that the Department of Conservation and TUT had not agreed their annual operational plan as required by the Te Urewera Act. That is primarily down to the fact that Kruger – the Tūhoe strongman installed by John Key’s government – has refused to engage with the department for the last two years. Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER: King Tut – the Tuhoe strongman who boasts of the National Park that disappeared”

Recommendations in select committee’s hefty report do little to dilute Mahuta’s Three Waters legislation

We were thinking about packing up for the day, here at Point of Order, when an email arrived from the Office of Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

She was advising us the Government has welcomed proposed recommendations from a Parliamentary select committee to improve the workability of water reform legislation.

She didn’t provide a link to steer us to the report, but we found it here and it’s a hefty document.

For now, we must rely on Mahuta’s digested version of the contents, although we are reminded that the Nats don’t think much has been changed by the recommendations and they will scrap the legislation.

National’s Local Government spokesperson Simon Watts notes that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Nanaia Mahuta had given assurances they would consider the alternative Three Waters model proposed by the Auckland, Christchurch and Waimakariri mayors. 

 He said he had lodged a motion in select committee last week to extend its deliberations to properly consider the mayors’ proposal,

“… but Labour MPs used their majority to block the motion – ensuring the Bill would be sent back to the House without adequately considering the new proposal.

 “It shows that Jacinda Ardern and Nanaia Mahuta’s promises of consideration and open dialogue with mayors about their alternatives are just talk. Labour has no intention of making any real changes to their reforms.”

Continue reading “Recommendations in select committee’s hefty report do little to dilute Mahuta’s Three Waters legislation”

THOMAS CRANMER: Three Waters and He Puapua

Despite the protestations of the Minister, the recommendations of the controversial He Puapua report are deeply embedded in Three Waters.  THOMAS CRANMER reports –

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the current government’s policies concerning co-governance, that the recommendations set out in the controversial report, He Puapua, are deeply embedded in the Three Waters reforms – particularly in relation to the operation of Te Mana o te Wai.

He Puapua is a report prepared for the then Minister for Maori Development, Nanaia Mahuta in 2019. It was commissioned by Cabinet to be the pathway for New Zealand to meet its commitment to the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples. Essentially, it is the road-map for Maori co-governance by 2040, the 200-year anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

As we now know, Minister Mahuta directly appointed her family member, Waimirirangi Ormsby, to the working group which authored the report, with another family member, Tamoko Ormsby, featuring as a contributor. Amongst the numerous contracts and appointments awarded to family members of the Minister over last 3 years, it is this appointment that Act’s David Seymour identified as being “a clear breach of the Cabinet Manual”.

Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER: Three Waters and He Puapua”

THOMAS CRANMER:  Tuku Morgan, Three Waters and the management of conflict

Without explanation, Waikato-Tainui’s Tukoroirangi Morgan has been appointed to lead the northern Three Waters iwi body.  This raises fresh concerns about governance and how conflicts are managed. THOMAS CRANMER  writes – 

When Wayne Brown joined forces with the Mayors of Christchurch, Waimakariri and Manawatu last Monday to put forward an alternative proposal for the country’s water reforms, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta, said that she was pleased the mayors saw that the current state of New Zealand’s water assets was untenable. She added that she would consider what they had raised and was keen for dialogue to continue.

In the press conference announcing the alternative proposal, the Mayors of Christchurch and Waimakariri had stated that, although they were did not support the current mega-entity model, they were “not opposed to co-governance”. Brown was more equivocal in his statements on the topic, preferring instead to observe that he “supports ideas that will work in practice”.   

Within days, a more forthright response to the mayors was made. Speaking at the National Iwi Leaders Chairs Forum in Taupo on Wednesday, Waikato-Tainui chairperson Tukoroirangi Morgan said:

I don’t know which world they belong to, this is 2022 Aotearoa New Zealand, this is about partnership … We will never be denied, we will never go silently in the night, our voice must be heard at the table and we must take our place, end of story.

Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER:  Tuku Morgan, Three Waters and the management of conflict”

THOMAS CRANMER: Wayne Brown lays down the challenge to Ardern and Mahuta

The Mayors of Auckland, Christchurch and Waimakariri deftly proposed an alternative plan for Three Waters on Monday and despite the Government’s initial response, the ball remains in its court. THOMAS CRANMER writes –

The press conference was held in Auckland and although it was led by Brown he made only the briefest of opening remarks before handing over to Waimakariri Council Mayor Dan Gordon, who announced “the path forward” with what he described as the “new consensus plan”.

Christchurch Mayor Phil Mauger then spoke in support of the proposal.

A fourth Mayor, Helen Worboys of Manawatu, was also scheduled to attend but was unable to do so due to family circumstances. Thus, whilst the press conference had all the optics of an Auckland proposal, it was clear that the impetus was coming from further south.

Indeed, despite the claim from Dan Gordon that this was a “new” plan, it was also clear that this proposal was based on a significant amount of the C4LD analysis and was broadly in line with the opposition to Three Waters that had been voiced in the recent local government elections.

That in itself is not a bad thing. The fact that this proposal leverages off the C4LD and Castalia work gives it more weight and counters any arguments that this is a half-baked plan concocted by novice mayors.

Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER: Wayne Brown lays down the challenge to Ardern and Mahuta”

THOMAS CRANMER: Te Urewera is not co-governance – it is Tuhoe-governance (and Mahuta is tapping into it for Three Waters)

Protests led by Tūhoe elders have brought the media spotlight back to Te Urewera as the governing body removes 48 huts.  Some consider this to be co-governance and it’s the model which Nanaia Mahuta is applying to her Three Waters reform.  But THOMAS CRANMER – who urges us to take a hard look – says we will find it is far from co-governance.  He writes: 

 Te Urewera is back in the headlines and it is important to consider why that is the case. Increasingly it is held up by the government and its supporters as an example of co-governance in action. A governance model put in place by the Key government in 2014, and a working example of why co-governance is not new nor particularly controversial.

It is also used as an example of effective Crown-iwi partnership when the Three Waters co-governance model is criticised and it forms the governance model which is currently being rolled out in the Milford Sounds and elsewhere across the country.

Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER: Te Urewera is not co-governance – it is Tuhoe-governance (and Mahuta is tapping into it for Three Waters)”

Thomas Cranmer: Three Waters and the Debt that will tear us apart

According to the government’s own projections, the Three Waters debt will only grow over time. We will never escape it and eventually it will tear the country apart.

This article continues a series by THOMAS CRANMER, the pseudonym adopted by a legal analyst who has been carefully dissecting the Three Waters legislation. He writes:

The financing of Three Waters has been almost entirely overlooked by financial analysts and media commentators despite the fact that the massive debt required to fund the planned shakeup of our water infrastructure could be as risky for the nation’s finances as Muldoon’s Think Big projects of the 1970s-80s. 

Research provided to the government has calculated that between $120bn to $185bn in investment is needed to maintain and improve New Zealand’s water infrastructure. What has been left mostly unsaid is exactly how much of this will be funded by debt and how it will be repaid.

The information we do have, however, is hardly reassuring. Government documents show the debt will keep growing and there are no plans for it to be repaid in the foreseeable future. It is effectively perpetual debt on a massive scale. Continue reading “Thomas Cranmer: Three Waters and the Debt that will tear us apart”

Ardern is right – Peters is politicking, but it’s rollicking politicking as he denounces co-governance and separatism

Returning from the political wilderness, New Zealand First leader  Winston Peters  delivered  what  some  commentators   described   as  a  “withering  attack” on the  government. He said the Labour Party was pursuing “woke, virtue-signalling madness” and a “separatist agenda”.

The government, furthermore, was scattering the “seeds of apartheid” through New Zealand’s laws and institutions.

“The [government’s] basis is  malignant  paternalism  arising from  paternalism  and  inverse  racism”. 


“Co-governance, separatism, and the seeds of apartheid are being scattered throughout all of our laws and institutions.”

He said he knew nothing of the Government’s co-governance plans when he was in coalition with Labour, and now

“… with no handbrake, they are ramming it down your throats”. Continue reading “Ardern is right – Peters is politicking, but it’s rollicking politicking as he denounces co-governance and separatism”