Mahuta and Robertson are flushed with enthusiasm as they pump revised Three Waters plans back into the political pipes

The Labour Government is again using a Friday while the Prime Minister is on leave to dump information, ACT Leader David Seymour claimed in a press statement today.   

He referenced an announcement on Friday last week setting out the  next steps on He Puapua, the government’s programme for extending the meaning of “Treaty partnership” and discriminating in favour of “indigenous” people as “special”.

Today, the government has released its decision on Three Waters.

Just one thing.  Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson certainly have announced the Government’s Three Waters plans.

But when Point of Order checked The Beehive website at 3.30pm – well, it still wasn’t there.

In his statement, David Seymour noted that Three Waters and He Puapua involve major constitutional reform.

“They are issues that deserve sunlight and proper debate,” he said.

“It’s frankly pathetic from Labour to try to quietly release these on Friday while Jacinda is unavailable for interviews.” Continue reading “Mahuta and Robertson are flushed with enthusiasm as they pump revised Three Waters plans back into the political pipes”

Jackson explains co-governance in terms of democracy and equity – but don’t look too hard at what 50:50 means down south

Anyone bothered by the insidious spread of Treaty-based co-governance arrangements will have been enlightened if not reassured by Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson’s defence of the concept when questioned by Jack Tame at the weekend.

Co-governance is shared decision-making and partnership and it is democratic because democracy has changed, he explained.

At least, that’s what Point of Order thinks he was saying.

So how has democracy changed?

Well, under co-governance Maori would have the same representation as non-Maori on the proposed Three Waters bodies that administer the management of water services.  This would be done because Article Three of the Treaty gives Māori an opportunity in terms of an equitable right …

“That’s not a superior right, that’s an equitable right. Why would you not buy into Māori working in terms of the Three Waters.”

According to this reasoning, we should not get too excited about numbers.  Equitability would translate into a proposal to give Ngai Tahu the same clout as around 20 elected councils over the management of South Island water services.    

  • One lot of co-governors would represent Ngai Tahu, a tribal business entity that claims the affiliation of 68,000 people,
  • The other lot would represent 20 or so councils representing around 750,000 people.

Continue reading “Jackson explains co-governance in terms of democracy and equity – but don’t look too hard at what 50:50 means down south”

Buzz from the Beehive – was it Winston Peters who last mentioned “democracy” in an Anzac Day speech?

It is a measure of the Government’s regard for the democracy that is being “tweaked” on her watch that Jacinda Ardern didn’t drop that word into her Speech to Mt Albert Anzac Day Service.

More than a century after the first Anzac Day commemorations were held in 1916 “in sober remembrance of those who had been involved in the Gallipoli campaign”, she said,.

“… this annual recognition of the service and sacrifice of New Zealanders in war remains equally significant, as we take pause to recognise all who have returned from service, and all who have been lost to us.”


“Anzac Day is a time to give thanks to today’s armed forces who strive to uphold the values we hold dear as they continue to serve in areas of conflict overseas.”

Point of Order delved back to 2019 to find mention of democracy in a ministerial speech on Anzac Day.  On that occasion the speech was delivered by Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters at the Danish Institute of International Studies in Copenhagen.

Peters, leader of New Zealand First, is no longer in office to impede Labour’s constitutional reconstruction as its coalition partner.  But it seems he is still a champion of democracy because he recently declared:

“The insidious creep of the racist, separatist, secretive co-governance agenda must be stopped now…”  

In Copenhagen, he explained that Anzac Day was the day on which Kiwis and Australians commemorate the sacrifices made by our service men and women over the last century and more in the pursuit of freedom. He said.

“A great number of New Zealanders lost their lives during two world wars fighting to defend Europe from tyranny and from fascisim.  It is therefore a privilege to speak today in Denmark, a thriving, peaceful and innovative democracy with which our country – New Zealand – shares so much.”

 Peters mentioned “the values that drive us”, including democracy.

“New Zealand is one of only nine countries with an uninterrupted sequence of democratic elections since 1854”.

But now – as Deputy PM Grant Robertson acknowledged this morning – our government is “adapting” core democratic principles to ensure better outcomes for Māori.

Radio NZ’s account of this interview includes a pointer to an item headed –

“We’re interested in things that work” Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson (7 min 53 sec)

Work at what?

If efficiency of government spending is the objective, for example, we could learn a lot from the United Arab Emirates, which ranks number one on a World Economic Forum, Executive Opinion Survey for efficiency in fiscal management.

Qatar (fourth), Rwanda (fifth) and Saudi Arabia (seventh) are worth emulating, too, because they all come in ahead of New Zealand (eighth).

None of those countries has much time for “democracy” of the sort Peters mentioned in his speech,  although maybe Robertson’s recognition of the benefits of other forms of government  explains why he is arguing the case for tweaking…

Latest from the Beehive

26 APRIL 2022

Helping some of New Zealand’s highest energy users slash their emissions

The Government is helping even more of New Zealand’s biggest industrial players slash their emissions faster, with one of the Government’s biggest hitters when it comes to supporting decarbonisation, Minister of Energy and Resources, Dr Megan Woods announced today.

Boosting biggest city’s environment cred

More than 50 jobs are being created across Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland with the launch of three new Government-backed initiatives, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says.

Celebrating 30 years of Great Walks

The opening of the 2022-23 Great Walks booking season next week heralds 30 years of epic adventures in our backyard throughout the country, says Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan.


25 APRIL 2022

Prime Minister’s Speech to Mt Albert Anzac Day Service

Let me start by saying how wonderful it is to see people up and down the country gathering together in person again this year, in commemoration of Anzac Day.

Buzz from the Beehive – and a fly in the ointment for Tweaker Coffey’s plans to rattle Rotorua’s voting arrangements

Alerted by press statements from National and ACT (here and here), Point of Order wondered if the  Report of the Attorney-General under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 on the Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill had been mentioned on the Beehive website yesterday.

It hadn’t.   Since our previous report on the activities of our ministers, just two press statements had been posted.

One advised us of the Government-financed rebuild of the Rangiriri Pa Trenches complex in Waikato, the first project completed from a special regional economic development fund for sites of cultural significance. The other was a Statement on Cooperation in Agriculture between Japan and New Zealand.

The Attorney-General’s advice has been  sent to Parliament’s Maori Affairs Committee, which is chaired by list MP Tamati Coffey, and can be found on the Parliamentary website here.

It more than somewhat challenges the thinking of the Government’s Tweakocrats and Sophistocrats by stating (more or less) that in terms of complying with this country’s Bill of Rights, the Rotorua bill is a crock.

Among other things, it says:

In a representative democracy, it is important to maintain approximately the same level of representation for everyone. The proposed arrangements in the Bill would make the number of council members for the Māori ward disproportionately higher than the number of council members for the general ward in comparison to their respective populations. As the disadvantaged group is those on the General roll, changing representation arrangements away from proportional representation therefore creates a disadvantage for non-Māori as they cannot in future elect to change rolls.


This proposed arrangement detracts from the key constitutional principle of equal representation in a representative democracy. I consider that there must be strong reasons to depart from this fundamental constitutional principle and, accordingly, to justify the limit on the right to freedom from discrimination. Departures from the Local Electoral Act may also have broader constitutional impacts and need to be carefully considered. Arrangements like these, if replicated across other local bodies could result in significant impacts, which may be better considered in full by central government and Parliament.

This (we imagine) will be of interest to Coffey not only because he is chairman of the select committee but also because he is the bill’s sponsor.

Another good reason for ditching the bill – of course – is that the recently published Local Government Commission’s determination for Rotorua offers a more equitable representation arrangement for that city.

More than a week after politely asking Coffey whether the bill will proceed on the strength of that determination , we have yet to hear from him.

Latest from the Beehive

23 APRIL 2022

Rangiriri Pa trench rebuild shines a light on our shared histories

The shared nineteenth-century histories of Aotearoa-New Zealand have come to life with the official opening today of one of the most culturally significant sites of the 1860s New Zealand Wars.

 Statement on Cooperation in Agriculture between Japan and New Zealand

Japan and New Zealand’s strong partnership is built on a long tradition of official and industry engagement, underpinned by our natural complementarities and strong business relationships.

Dr Bryce Edwards:  Rotorua’s voting proposals and the polarising issue for Parliament of co-governance


Announcing completion of the the first stage of the two-step engagement process to develop “a Declaration Plan”, Maori Development Minister Willie Jackson today said valuable feedback had been received to help with drafting the plan on indigenous people’s rights over the next few weeks before it is taken out to wider consultation. 

As stated previously, he insisted, He Puapua is not the Declaration Plan, nor is it Government policy.  Furthermore, the Declaration Plan will not just be about co-governance, he said.

But this does not necessarily mean co-governance is being lowered in the government’s considerations.   In this article, DR BRYCE EDWARDS canvasses the debate the co-governance issue has engendered …


Co-governance is currently the most polarising issue in New Zealand politics. There’s something of a culture war over the concept of giving Māori voters or leaders a mandated equal political influence in public affairs. It’s an issue that has the potential to be socially explosive as plans are being developed and debated for how far the co-governance concept should be introduced in different areas of public life.

The co-governance issue of the day is whether local government elections could be altered so voters on the Māori electoral roll have the power to elect exactly the same number of councillors as those on the general role. The council in question is the Rotorua District Council, which has asked Parliament to give it legislative permission to introduce a new system for this year’s elections, allowing voters on the Māori and general rolls to elect three councillors each.

Critics point out that there are 22,000 voters on the Māori roll in Rotorua and 56,000 voters on the general roll, and that means voters on the Māori roll will have 2.5 times the electoral power as voters on the general roll. Continue reading “Dr Bryce Edwards:  Rotorua’s voting proposals and the polarising issue for Parliament of co-governance”

Democracy and voter equality is all Greek to Coffey – but he does favour tweaking the electoral system to give us a Treatocracy

Tamati Coffey, a Labour list MP and chairman of Parliament’s Māori Affairs Committee, may well be busy answering hundreds of letters. Point of Order therefore should be more patient while we await his responses to questions we put to him.

On the other hand, he may ignore all correspondence.

In that case we would have cause to be aggrieved because – as the chairman of a select committee – we understand that our taxes contribute to his Parliamentary salary of $179,713 plus an expenses entitlement of $16,980.

The questions we emailed to Coffey on Thursday last week were triggered by the recently published Local Government Commission’s determination for Rotorua.

This would result in three Māori Ward Councillors being elected in Rotorua’s local government elections, but (as Kiwiblog pointed out) without sacrificing the important principle of equality of suffrage. Continue reading “Democracy and voter equality is all Greek to Coffey – but he does favour tweaking the electoral system to give us a Treatocracy”

Democracy in Tauranga down the plug-hole until 2024 – so what can we learn about Mahuta’s intentions for Three Waters?

The Taxpayers’ Union saw the implications for the Three Waters programme.   Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s decision to cancel this year’s elections in Tauranga (spokesman Louis Houlbrooke said) showed she could not be trusted to deliver water services that are accountable to ratepayers.

The Taxpayers’ Union is supporting the Tauranga Ratepayers’ Alliance‘s petition to restore elections at

Among his objections to Mahuta’s decision, Houlbrooke said the Wellington-appointed, co-governed commission (answerable only to the Minister) had pushed through a 17 per cent rates hike.

“Why should we expect her unelected, co-governed water entities to deliver anything better for ratepayers?”

Fair to say, One News  flushed out support for Mahuta: Continue reading “Democracy in Tauranga down the plug-hole until 2024 – so what can we learn about Mahuta’s intentions for Three Waters?”

Three Waters : an unnecessary programme that will degrade our democracy with a dubious (and unnamed) form of governance

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta yesterday welcomed the independent Working Group report on the Three Waters Reform Programme.  She insists the programme is necessary to ensure all communities have access to affordable, safe and sustainable drinking, waste and storm water services.  BARRIE SAUNDERS and KARL DU FRESNE – former colleagues of Point of Order’s Bob Edlin – challenge this on their respective blogs and warn of the implications for our democratic structures….  


Three Waters – a totally unnecessary battle

The Three Waters proposal driven by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta is a totally unnecessary, very divisive battle with local government and the people of New Zealand.  

The focus has been on whether there should be co-governance with iwi leaders, and also, whether it adequately prevents privatisation, which I see as a red herring maybe designed to divert attention from the real issues.  

The critical question is whether the failings of local government are such, that their Three Waters assets should be confiscated by the state, reformulated into four entities, and then handed back into a convoluted governance regime involving iwi and local government nominees.   

Having looked at the papers behind the proposals I do not believe they meet the necessary threshold.  Yes, there are problems, as Local Government NZ has recognised for many years, but they do not in my view justify central government overriding local government in this heavy-handed manner.  Continue reading “Three Waters : an unnecessary programme that will degrade our democracy with a dubious (and unnamed) form of governance”

Democracy or partnership? A critical issue revisited

Guest post by Barrie Saunders

Last year I posted an article about democracy or partnership and asked which of the two do we want – because we can’t have both.

Since then, the partnership and co-governance concepts have gained legs with the Three Waters proposals and the twin health authorities.  In addition, at local government level in the same vein, we have seen non-elected appointees given voting rights on council committees.

PM Jacinda Ardern uses the “partnership” term frequently and in a TVNZ interview with Jack Tame, National Leader Christopher Luxon also equated the Treaty with partnership.

When starting a journey, it is useful to know where it will end;  otherwise one can end up in an uncomfortable zone, from which retreat is difficult.  Somehow, I suspect few political leaders, other than the Maori Party and ACT, have really thought through the partnership concept, and we are heading for a rough time, unless there is a course correction.

Continue reading “Democracy or partnership? A critical issue revisited”

Yes, Ngai Tahu could campaign for votes to win council seats – but why bother, if privilege is granted to let it bypass the ballot box?

Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey, the highest-ranked South Island and Canterbury MP in National’s recently reorganised caucus, went out to open the batting for democracy in the debate triggered by the introduction of the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill.

He expressed the Nats’ opposition to the legislative entrenchment of a governance arrangement which the council (also known as Environment Canterbury, or ECan) and Ngai Tahu have recognised as “a privilege”.

But Doocey was on sticky wicket, his task complicated by the council’s recent history and by the Nats’ role in the introduction of this privilege.

It was a National-led government which,in 2010, sacked all elected members of the council and replaced them with appointed commissioners.

A few years later, to ease the path to restoring a democratically elected council in 2019, the National-led government came up with a mix of elected and appointed council members, including two Ngai Tahu appointees.

After democracy was restored, the council and Ngai Tahu wanted to keep the Ngai Tahu appointees – and they were keen to stay on.

A joint council-Ngai press statement in October 2020 explained what happened. Continue reading “Yes, Ngai Tahu could campaign for votes to win council seats – but why bother, if privilege is granted to let it bypass the ballot box?”