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Three waters ‘better-off’ spending revealed

The select committee report on the ‘three waters’ amendment legislation is widely expected to be put before Parliament this month, although the exact date is not known.

The committee report on the Water Services Entities Amendment Bill was published early this month, although its contents remain confidential until tabled in Parliament. Its publication follows a two-week consultation period, which closed in early July.

The bill expanded the earlier proposal to amalgamate water administration services from four entities across New Zealand, to 10 entities – among other changes.

In April 2023, local authorities were told that, while the first tranche of $500 million ‘Better Off’ funding as part of the wastewater, drinking water and stormwater reform programme would be shared amongst the country’s councils as scheduled, a second tranche of $1.5 billion would not.

The publication of the select committee’s report comes as Wairarapa’s three councils share details of spending plans for the first tranche of their new funding.

Stefan Corbett is the group manager partnerships and operations at South Wairarapa District council [SWDC]. He reports a total allocation of $1.88 million has been approved for the council, of which 10 per cent or $188,000 had been received. None of the funding has been spent but some has been allocated, with the balance to be decided.

“The Better Off funding of $1.88m has been allocated to SWDC for uses that meet the Department of Internal Affairs criteria. A sum of $500k is to be spent on wastewater treatment plant upgrades that were not able to be budgeted in the long term plan,” Corbett said.

“Council is still considering what to use the remaining $1.38 million for.”

Corbett referenced an in-principle decision made by the previous council to create a Community Wellbeing Fund as one option, “although we note that ambition may be more difficult given the government has cancelled the larger [over $5m] second tranche of Better Off funding”.

“A sum of $500,000 is to be allocated to the Martinborough Wastewater Treatment Plant and Greytown Wastewater Treatment Plant desludging activities,” Corbett said.

An SWDC spokesperson responded to a further query about the remaining $1.38 million by saying community wellbeing initiatives are being explored.

“Details are not available for the refreshed proposed plan,” they said.

Masterton District Council [MDC] and Carterton District Council [CDC] has defined plans for spending their allocation of the funding.

“CDC has been allocated $1.7m of tranche one funding,” a spokesperson said.

“This means this amount of funding has been set aside for CDC and we can make project claims as the agreed projects progress, up until 30 June 2027.”

For CDC, the second tranche of funding would have been $5.1 million.

Tranche one projects need to show investment in community wellbeing, and are currently planned by CDC as follows:

5 Towns Trail and Local Cycle Trail Masterplan: $270,000.00

Climate management and mitigation for existing projects: $300,000.00

Eastern Growth Area: $870,000.00

Land-Based Discharge of Treated Wastewater and Nursery Investigation: $100,000.00

Māori Responsiveness Strategy and Action Plan: $160,000.00

“These proposals are currently under CDC internal review, meaning that some of this may be re-allocated,” the spokesperson said.

“So far, we have received the first 10 per cent of Tranche 1 funding [$170,000], which has been spread evenly across the above five projects.”

A Masterton District Council [MDC] spokesperson confirmed MDC has been allocated $3.88 million of first tranche funding, with $388,000 received to date.

All funding has been
allocated as follows:

Targeted Wastewater Renewals: $556,100

Pūkaha Funding Contribution: $335,00

Projects in the current
financial year include:

Targeted Wastewater Renewals: $2.115 million

Biodiversity planting/fish passages: $200,000

Mana Whenua partnerships/climate resilience: $300,000

Climate change activator: $90,000

Trust House recreation centre/splash pad feasibility: $120,000.


Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air


  1. District councils just love not listening to rate payers and using them as a sacrifice to get free money from government 🤔. They listening to 10% of rate payers and say the districts agreed. What happened to Democracy? We must of sold it and l must of been asleep 😴 💤 😑 .

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