Water Services Reform

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Iwi will have a greater role in the water services reforms, including pathways for enhanced participation by whānau and hapū as these services relate to their Treaty rights and interests.

Iwi and hapū will have a greater role in the new water services delivery system, including pathways for enhanced participation by whanau, hapū and iwi as they relate to delivery of water services to their communities and as it interacts with their Treaty rights and interests.

As Treaty Partners, mana whenua bring an important perspective as kaitiaki (guardians) of Te Mana o te Wai, which will be at the heart of the new system. This includes:

Statutory recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi:

Te Tiriti o Waitangi is a central pillar of the water services reform programme. The rights and interests of iwi Māori will be recognised and provided for in service-delivery arrangements for the new water services delivery system.

The water services delivery system will also provide protections to support the integrity, intent and effect of existing and subsequent Treaty Settlement arrangements. The Department of Internal Affairs will work closely with Post Settlement Governance Entities to ensure Treaty settlement arrangements are upheld.

Statutory recognition of Te Mana o Te Wai:

At the heart of the water services delivery system is Te Mana o te Wai, a concept derived from te ao Māori. Te Mana o te Wai refers to the vital importance of water. It prioritises the health of our water to ensure the health of people and the environment.  Advancing Te Mana o te Wai is the responsibility of all New Zealander’s

Te Mana o Te Wai will be recognised and provided for in service-delivery arrangements for the water services delivery system. It is expected that Te Mana o te Wai creates structural changes to the better management of water services. Therefore, each water services entity will be required to give effect to Te Mana o Te Wai both in legislation and as articulated by mana whenua over their respective waterbodies.

Mana whenua representation on Regional Representative Groups:

Mana whenua will have equal representation on the RRGs alongside councils in each water services entity area, forming a partnership that will provide local level direction and oversight to water services entities. This includes setting strategic and performance expectations, approving strategic direction and the appointment of competency-based boards.

Competency-based boards:

Each water services entity will be governed by a professional board, with members appointed for their competency and skills.

It is expected that one or more members of each entity board must have sufficient knowledge across the following areas:

  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi, tikanga Māori, te ao Māori and mātauranga Māori: Experience and deep understanding of te ao Māori, Te Tiri o Waitangi and iwi dynamics relating to delivering water services.
  • Te Mana o te Wai as a framework: A deep understanding of Te Mana o te Wai as a framework, with relevant expertise to determine how it ould be applied for the respective entity.
  • Transition, change and establishment: Significant experience and success in large-scale sector reform, change and establishment.
  • Human resources, organisational design and workforce development: Significant human resources expertise and in-depth understanding of the impact of change and transition on the water and local government workforce.
  • Asset and infrastructure managements, development and operations: Wide ranging experience across asset and infrastructure management development and an understanding of the opportunities within water and infrastructure operations.
  • Finance: Experience in complex commercial arrangements and an ability to identify risk and bring appropriate pragmatic advice.

Support for capability and capacity:

We are committed to partnering with iwi and hapū at all stages of the water services reform process.

We are working closely with iwi and hapū groups throughout the country and will continue to engage with them directly during the transition process.


Ten new publicly-owned Water Services Entities will take on responsibility for the operation of the country’s water infrastructure, which are currently managed by 67 councils. Through this reform, mana whenua will have joint oversight with councils for each of the entities through regional partnership arrangements.

The Government has mandated DIA to manage the provision of funding to support the design and improvement in the delivery of water services by enabling Iwi and Māori within and across each of the Water Services Entities to participate in the Water Services Reform Programme.

Iwi Collective Funding

The Iwi Collective Funding supports the Iwi Collectives across each water services entity to organise themselves and design and implement components of their business case. The proposed implementation arrangement involves distributing funding equally so that each Iwi Collective receives $6.95 million.

  • Waipuna aa Rangi in WSE A has been fully funded and will continue to implement its business case - waipunaaarangi.nz
  • Manawa o Ngā Wai in WSE B is to receive full funding shortly.
  • Iwi Collectives in WSE C and D are organising themselves to receive funding support.

With the announcement of 10 Water Services Entities, DIA will engage with iwi Māori to discuss support and work with them on new funding arrangements.

He Pūkenga Wai

The He Pūkenga Wai Fund supports eligible iwi/Māori organisations to participate in the transition and establishment of the new water services entities.  

The Government is providing funding to support the following outcomes: 

  • mana whenua engaging in the opportunities available in the new system
  • strengthening collaboration and connection across mana whenua within specific boundaries
  • enhancing capability and capacity of iwi to contribute to the new three waters system.

Funding of $18,000 per annum is available for individual eligible organisations to wānanga within their whānau and hapū. Further support is planned as the water services reform progresses.

Applications to this fund are now open.

Who is eligible for funding

Post-Settlement Governance Entities: the representative organisation established after a Treaty settlement with the Crown that has the purpose of representing the iwi members and managing any assets resulting from the settlement.

Mandated iwi organisations: organisations with mandate recognised by the Crown for Treaty of Waitangi settlement negotiations.

Iwi authorities: the authority which represents an iwi for the purposes of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and which is recognised by that iwi as having authority to do so.

To view a list of identified eligible entities, follow the link below:

Identified eligible entities

If you think your organisation should be eligible, but it is not listed, then please email waterservicesreform@dia.govt.nz and the team will get in touch.

What work will be able to be funded:

General engagement on the water services reform programme, including broadly:

  • Within iwi.
  • Between iwi and iwi organisations.
  • Within a region.
  • Within Aotearoa.
  • With Local Government.

Establishing representative arrangements for the new Water Services Entities, including:

  • Representative approaches such as election costs.
  • Costs of supporting and setting up a representative.

Planning, advice and research associated with establishing the new Water Services Entities, including:

  • Project planning and management costs.
  • Gathering and preparing supporting information.
  • Legal advice.

Funding requests must align with He Pūkenga Wai funding outcomes:

  • Mana whenua engaging in the opportunities available in the new system.
  • Strengthening collaboration and connection across mana whenua within specific boundaries.
  • Enhancing capability and capacity of iwi to contribute to the new water services reform system.

What you will need to apply

Applications will require organisations to be registered in the Hāpai Hapori system. If you register any time prior to making your application, then the application process will be simpler.

To register your organisation, phone 0800 556 253 or email pukengawai@dia.govt.nz and a Hāpai Hapori advisor will support you through the process.

To apply, you will need:

A short outline of the activities you intend to undertake.

An application letter or email signed by an individual with proper authority to commit the iwi organisation to the representation process. This is most likely a Chair or a Chief Executive Officer (or General Manager) of the iwi organisation, however, it may be an officer of the iwi organisation in some circumstances.

Once you are registered, you can apply to He Pūkenga Wai Fund online through the online grants management system.

Additional funding for Iwi Collectives

Further to the He Pūkenga Wai Fund, additional funding will be available to Iwi Collectives within each of the entity boundaries. This funding is to support iwi and hapū within each of the water services entities to get together and determine what regional representation will look like in the new system.

Details about this further funding will be released soon. For further information on this, please email pukengawai@dia.govt.nz