The Government has scrapped a major part of its unpopular Three Waters reforms, ditching the four mega entities that would have delivered Three Waters – freshwater, wastewater, and stormwater – services to households. The four entities now become ten entities, with their boundaries established roughly along the lines of New Zealand’s 16 regional councils. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says the Government has listened to feedback from the local government sector – which has been divided over the Three Waters reforms – and will make sure the reforms are “led at a regional level”.

The ten entities will allow local councils more direct engagement with the water entities that will manage water services on their behalf. The Three Waters reforms were meant to help local councils deal with the eye watering cost of investment in water infrastructure – estimated to be about $130-$185 billion over the next thirty years. He says the reforms are absolutely essential. Leaving things as they are will mean unaffordable rate bills. They will start in July 2026.