Justine Flanagan: Free water allocation ‘misunderstood’

Thursday September 10, 2020 Published in Letters to the Editor

The submission to Parliament by Ngati Kainuku illustrates how ‘free allocation’ is widely misunderstood. “Free allocation” does not mean free water for residents.

Under the bill, To Tatou Vai must be financially independent. The authority will need to cover its own staff and operational costs - $2.8 million annually. If every household were to keep within their free allocation each month, then TTV would not collect any money.

At the Puaikura vaka meeting, the TTV chair made it clear that the allocation is not the amount of water households need.

“TTV has the obligation not to make a profit, but to be self-funding. If the government gives a free allocation that is so high that we can’t be self-funding, we breach our own Act.”

The concepts of “waste” and “excess” have been introduced to justify water charges. Meters don’t measure waste, they only measure use.

Those that can go off-the-grid and collect their own water, will do so. Those that use very little water will remain within the free allocation. This puts the burden on the people who are at home: those with families (laundry, cooking, cleaning), and those with gardens, food crops, livestock.

Our people want to trust our leaders, and phrases like “free allocation” betray that trust.

Water is a public good and Te Vai Ora Maori believes that it should continue to be funded from general taxation.

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