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Water intake situation updated

Friday March 16, 2018 Published in Letters to the Editor
Finance minister Mark Brown. 18031514 Finance minister Mark Brown. 18031514

Dear Editor,

Wednesday’s report about our national goals was very timely indeed. It reminded me to write an update of Te Mato Vai discussions from the point of view of landowners of certain intakes.

 

At the meetings, minister Mark Brown has given verbal assurances on behalf of the Crown on three main points.

The first is that the project will deliver clean water to the people of Rarotonga. On that all parties are agreed.

The second assurance is that households will receive free water (to a certain level after which excess usage will attract a fee).

This assurance was after certain owners negotiated right from the outset for that concession in return for access to their land on which the water used by the authorities for the public water system is located.

It is noted that the House of Ariki and Koutu Nui issued their own statement that households should have free water. Influential traditional leaders such as Manavaroa Mataiapo have also thrown their support behind that initiative. Incidentally, having free water to homes will save households the sum of $60 monthly, the price quoted to us when negotiations first began.

It goes without saying that we agree that commercial premises such as resorts will have to pay water rates.

The third assurance is that the water authority will operate the system on a not-for-profit basis.

The latter was in response to the request of certain Landowners that the system is not to be privatised or sold to the highest bidder in future.

Other assurances include a co-management scheme between intake owners and government, in a similar way that the Tainui tribe with their respective water authority in New Zealand. Another tribe with a co-management water agreement is the Tuwharetoa people.

So far so good one would say, except that none of the assurances are reflected in the Deed of Access that owners are being urged to sign.

Not only that, but it was disclosed to the Takuvaine Water Catchment Committee that government has already established a private limited liability company to act as the interim water authority.

This was told to us in the presence of Minister Brown at a meeting held mid-February 2018.

This disclosure came as a bombshell to the Takuvaine Water Catchment Committee (the home territory of minister Brown).

After holding our own follow up meeting, we are coming to the realisation that the government is making soothing noises in order to have access to the intakes after which they appear to have no intention of keeping their word at all.

Our chairman and committee have decided that the best course of action would be to hold a combined meeting of owners of all intakes. In this way, we can come together to exchange views as to the true intentions of government in respect of their assurances.

We have not yet fixed a date for calling such a meeting until we have received some feedback on the matter from other owners.

If other owners from other intakes are interested in coming together to discuss a united response to government, please text 52703 to indicate your support.

Our committee has agreed that any such meeting would be open to the general community.

After all, everyone is entitled to clean water.

`           Committee Member

            (Name and address supplied)