6 May 2024

Could Wellington be the next region to ink a water deal with the government?

8:43 am on 6 May 2024
A new leak bubbled up through the paving stones behind the Old Bank Arcade in Wellington's city centre, on 11 January, 2024.

A water leak bubbling up through the paving stones behind the Old Bank Arcade in Wellington's city centre in January 2024. Representatives from councils in the Wellington region will meet this week to discuss working together on a water plan. Photo: RNZ / Jemima Huston

Porirua's mayor hopes the Wellington region will be the next part of the country to secure a water deal with the government.

Minister of Local Government Simeon Brown announced on Sunday that a deal had been inked with Auckland Council that would allow the city's water provider, Watercare, to borrow money for infrastructure separately from council.

The coalition government claimed it meant council rates would only increase by 7.2 percent instead of a previously projected 25.8 percent.

It came as councils from Horowhenua, Kāpiti, Wairarapa, the Hutt Valley, Porirua and Wellington City prepare to meet this Friday to work together on a plan for a Greater Wellington region water deal.

The meeting of council representatives will be chaired by former Wellington Mayor Dame Kerry Prendergast.

Porirua Mayor Anita Baker told RNZ the Auckland deal was awesome and reflected her calls for budget sheet separation between councils and water providers.

"It shows the government's serious obviously, and can pass legislation to get that financial independence, so for Wellington I think it's really exciting."

Baker said she wanted their region to get its act together and be the next to get a deal.

She said it would help councils in the Wellington region facing high rates.

Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau told RNZ while the details around the Auckland deal were not clear, it sounded positive.

"We are working with other regional councils towards a new model for Wellington that we hope can achieve a similar outcome for our residents."

Whanau said she had made it clear to the local government minister what legislation was required for them to achieve balance sheet separation like Auckland.

A bill to introduce the necessary changes in legislation to allow the Auckland water deal to go ahead will be introduced later this month.

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