Mahuta’s talks succeed in warming up high-level relationships in Beijing, and she opens way for visit by PM

In what has been one of her most important diplomatic mission, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta  has opened the door  for  a visit  to Beijing by Prime Minister Chris Hipkins later this year.

Such a mission is regarded as vital with a new Prime Minister  Li Qiang settling into office. NZ’s last contact at prime ministerial level was in 2019 when what was a planned extended Jacinda Ardern mission had to be  cut short.

Since  then tensions have deepened between China (which is New Zealand’s largest market) and  the US (NZ’s  traditional defence partner).

So as Mahuta said on her return from a four-day visit to China, NZ’s relationship  with the leaders in Beijing “is very important and complex”.

It  requires “continual management” to make sure the two countries do not lose sight of each others’ views and perspectives.

Mahuta  had  talks with Foreign Minister Qin Gang  and the  message she received is  that the relationship is strong; China appreciates New Zealand’s “objective and friendly approach” and is keen to pursue opportunities to increase trade and economic co-operation.

Continue reading “Mahuta’s talks succeed in warming up high-level relationships in Beijing, and she opens way for visit by PM”

Major issues on the table in Mahuta’s  talks in Beijing with China’s new Foreign Minister

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has left for Beijing for the first ministerial visit to China since 2019.

Mahuta is  to  meet China’s new foreign minister Qin Gang  where she  might have to call on all the  diplomatic skills  at  her  command.

Almost certainly she  will  face  questions  on what  role NZ  might  seek  to  play in the AUKUS defence pact involving Australia, the UK and the US.

President Joe Biden’s National Security Council co-ordinator for the Indo Pacific, Kurt Campbell, was  reported  this week as saying the US is looking for other working group partners now that the ‘critical components’ of the Indo-Pacific alliance have been launched. Continue reading “Major issues on the table in Mahuta’s  talks in Beijing with China’s new Foreign Minister”

Chris Trotter: The privatisation two-step – is Three Waters a masterpiece of misdirection?

  • Chris Trotter writes – 

IF CABINET FAILS to scrap Three Waters and start again, New Zealand may very quickly come to resemble Bolivia. Not the Bolivia of today, where a socialist government elected by a huge majority holds sway, but the Bolivia of 1997. That Bolivia had been ordered by the World Bank to privatise its water – on pain of being refused the loans it so desperately needed to keep its economy afloat.

Taken over by French and American corporations, Bolivia’s water resources were very quickly priced beyond the reach of its poorest – that is to say, its indigenous – citizens.

Unsurprisingly, the Bolivian Government soon found itself in the grip of a massive popular uprising. In 2005, after five years of unrelenting struggle, the indigenous Bolivians forced their government to terminate the concessions granted to the French and the Americans. Continue reading “Chris Trotter: The privatisation two-step – is Three Waters a masterpiece of misdirection?”

Political Roundup: New Zealand resets relationships with Australia and India

  • Geoffrey Miller writes – 

The first clues to New Zealand’s foreign policy after Jacinda Ardern are beginning to emerge.

Chris Hipkins, the new Prime Minister, decided to retain Nanaia Mahuta as his foreign minister – and both Hipkins and Mahuta took to the skies last week.

While Hipkins headed to Australia – the customary first destination for an incoming New Zealand Prime Minister – Mahuta flew to India on a surprise trip announced just a day prior to her departure.

In very different contexts, the pair managed to smooth over differences and pave the way for deeper partnerships – which may well involve greater military cooperation.

Mahuta is likely to play a bigger role in New Zealand’s foreign policy in the months to come, not least because Hipkins’ pledge to focus on ‘bread and butter’ economic issues is likely to keep him at home more often, especially as the October 14 election date draws closer. Continue reading “Political Roundup: New Zealand resets relationships with Australia and India”

Chris Trotter: Blowing off the froth – why Chris Hipkins must ditch Three Waters

Time To Call A Halt: Chris Hipkins knows that iwi leaders possess the means to make life very difficult for his government. Notwithstanding their objections, however, the Prime Minister’s direction of travel – already clearly signalled by his very public demotion of Nanaia Mahuta – must be confirmed by an emphatic and unequivocal pledge to repeal the Three Waters legislation and start again.  CHRIS TROTTER writes…

THERE’S FROTH, AND THERE’S BEER. What we see happening on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds every 6 February, not to mention the political performance-art on the lower marae, is froth.

The beer of Māori-Pakeha relations is to be found in the private meeting rooms of Waitangi’s Copthorne Hotel & Resort, where the National Iwi Chairs Forum (NICF) deliberates in secret upon Maoridom’s next moves. It is there, in the days leading up to Waitangi Day, that New Zealand’s new Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins, will either face down the men and women driving the stake of co-governance into the heart of the Settler State – or see Labour spiral slowly to defeat.

The designation “Iwi Chairs” seems so innocuous. It conjures up the image of a roomful of corporate bureaucrats working their way through a very boring agenda, and breaking-off every now and then to listen to equally boring presentations from bankers, accountants and the occasional politician. Continue reading “Chris Trotter: Blowing off the froth – why Chris Hipkins must ditch Three Waters”

GRAHAM ADAMS: Report into Mahuta family contracts leaves questions unanswered

GRAHAM ADAMS writes –  

It is ironic that the release of the long-awaited report into government contracts awarded to Nanaia Mahuta’s family has been overshadowed by an even bigger controversy over her role in a secretive attempt to entrench an anti-privatisation clause in the Three Waters legislation.

The publication of the review by Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes on Tuesday must have come as a profound relief to the embattled Minister of Local Government.

Mahuta particularly welcomed the statement that Hughes had found “no evidence of favouritism, bias, or undue influence over agency decisions in relation to KAS (Ka Awatea Services) or KC [Kawai Catalyst] due to the connections with the minister”.
Ka Awatea Services is owned by Mahuta’s husband, Gannin Ormsby, while Kawai Catalyst is owned by Gannin Ormsby’s nephew and his wife — Tamoko and Waimirirangi Ormsby.

The government contracts awarded to the consultancies by four government departments — Kāinga Ora; the Ministry for the Environment; Department of Conservation; and the Ministry of Māori Development / Te Puni Kōkiri — totalled more than $200,000.
Continue reading “GRAHAM ADAMS: Report into Mahuta family contracts leaves questions unanswered”

Six Labour MPs say they are quitting politics – and one gets a compliment (unexpected?) from ACT

As food prices  soar and  the cost-of-living crisis  deepens, it is  not surprising politicians of the governing party are throwing in the towel. If  they were uncertain about the  mood of the electorate,  the  Hamilton West byelection result was convincing enough. So those mulling their future in politics would take a powerful  message from  that. Among the ministers calling time are Poto Williams, Aupito William Sio and David Clark, and MPs Jamie Strange, Marja Lubeck and Paul Eagle will also exit stage left. If there were no surprises there, what may have been surprising  was PM Jacinda Ardern’s statement that all six had made important contributions to the government and the lives of New Zealanders. Continue reading “Six Labour MPs say they are quitting politics – and one gets a compliment (unexpected?) from ACT”

THOMAS CRANMER: Three Waters passes but at what cost?

The government has paid a huge political cost in pushing through the Three Waters legislation, and in doing so has exposed rifts within Cabinet and damaged the reputation of Minister Mahuta.  THOMAS CRANMER writes – 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a government with a reputation for profligacy resolved to spend so much of its political capital to push through the deeply unpopular Three Waters bill into law this week.  The full cost is yet to be tallied but from the look of their shell-shocked faces as they sat in Parliament, Labour MPs are starting to realize that a good number of them will be paying with their jobs when the general election arrives next year.

Even the once-imperious Minister Mahuta has been damaged by the passage of this Bill into law. Ignoring many valid concerns raised by opposition parties, councils, iwi and the public, the Minister pushed too hard in the closing stages of the legislative process. First, by expanding the scope of Te Mana o te Wai to cover geothermal and coastal waters, and then in the breathtakingly brazen attempt to entrench a point of policy into law.

Both issues were not understood by the Minister’s Cabinet colleagues, which left them woefully exposed when they were questioned by the media and opposition parties.

The effect is that the Minister looks less like an experienced lawmaker and more like a reckless chancer who pulled a number on her own parliamentary colleagues. Undoubtedly this has damaged Mahuta’s reputation at what could be a difficult time for her to navigate. Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER: Three Waters passes but at what cost?”

Mahuta’s Three Waters law was promoted as a health measure as well as a cost-saver – but whose figures should we use?

After the Water Services Entities Bill passed its third reading in Parliament, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta said it was the first of three bills that will ensure affordable drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services can be provided to New Zealanders now and into the future.

Everyone agreed that change was needed to ensure communities have safe, reliable drinking water at an affordable price, she said.

“We are already seeing what is at stake with over 34,000 New Zealanders getting sick from drinking water each year.”

Point of Order has been dipping into the most recent data we could find on the Massey University-based Environmental Health Intelligence NZ website.

This provides information and intelligence on how the environment affects the health of New Zealand’s population.

We focused on a factsheet (dated May this year) headed Notifications of potentially waterborne diseases. Continue reading “Mahuta’s Three Waters law was promoted as a health measure as well as a cost-saver – but whose figures should we use?”

Splish, splash – and Mahuta is back in the swim with a Bill to spare us from sinking in water-supply costs

Buzz from the Beehive

The government hadn’t done with legislating and regulating our water-supply systems, when we last reported on the flow of announcements from the Beehive.

Nanaia Mahuta (in tandem with Commerce and Communications Minister David Clark) had one more press statement to  issue – 

New legislation to provide affordable water services for New Zealanders

The Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Bill and Water Services Legislation Bill have been introduced to Parliament today, following the passage of the Water Services Entities Act.

Earlier in the day Mahuta had issued this –

 Next steps in securing affordable water services for New Zealanders

The Government has laid foundations for safe and affordable water services with the Water Services Entities Bill passing its third reading in Parliament.

This was followed by Environment Minister David Parker announcing –

Updating freshwater regulations

The Government has updated the Essential Freshwater 2020 regulations to support their effective implementation, and in response to consultation feedback.  

The changes announced by Parker have been made to the:

Parker says this means a consenting pathway is now available for quarrying activities, landfills and clean-fill areas, mineral mining (with some additional controls on coal mining) and some urban development.

But wait – there’s more. Continue reading “Splish, splash – and Mahuta is back in the swim with a Bill to spare us from sinking in water-supply costs”