LETTER: To Tatou Vai being set up for ‘failure’

Saturday 5 June 2021 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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LETTER: To Tatou Vai being set up for ‘failure’

"On Thursday night, I attended the Puaikura public meeting on the amended To Tatou Vai Bill. The poor turnout suggests that the people have lost confidence in the process," writes Justine Flanagan from Te Vai Ora Maori

Dear Editor,

On Thursday night, I attended the Puaikura public meeting on the amended To Tatou Vai Bill. The poor turnout suggests that the people have lost confidence in the process.

The select committee was directed to report within three months – it’s now nearly a year since the last public consultation.

Landowners seeking to ensure that water remains free to kopu tangata have been disempowered by the Crown access negotiations.

There have been two public petitions against the imposition of water charges. Both have been frustrated.

Despite these obstructions, significant changes have been made and the bill has been amended: connection is no longer compulsory; there will be no periodic charge (no monthly ‘line’ rental); and the prejudice against growers has been removed. Credit where credit is due – the people made this happen.

More needs to be done. The bill will establish a state-owned enterprise that can (and will) charge for water. The business model is flawed. To Tatou Vai is being set up for failure.

Paying for water is culturally-inappropriate and economically unviable. The water itself is free. What we’ll pay for is: A bloated bureaucracy, board members, account management systems, meters and meter readers. Or the unnecessary cost of chemical treatment methods, and hazardous waste management.

Our island receives an abundance of rain. Managing this opportunity requires appropriate infrastructure. Penalising the public for using water is not the solution to sustain supply over dry spells.

Reassurance that charging is “some way off” or will only be “when the leaks have been fixed” are empty promises. The TTV board will have a duty to make the authority self-funding.

This parliamentary sitting PM (Mark) Brown will be pushing to make the TTV bill law. However the people of Rarotonga still have all the power. Lobby your MP – tell them “no water charges”. Vote “no” to To Tatou Vai!

Justine Matatoa Flanagan

Te Vai Ora Maori

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