The Wellington Archdiocese Ecology, Justice and Peace (EJP) Commission made an oral submission on Monday 29 August to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee in support of the Water Services Entities Bill.
Jim McAloon, EJP Commission Chair, and Estelle Henrys, Integral Ecology Committee coordinator, told the Select Committee that water is not a commodity, but a gift and a taonga to be used for the good of all.
The Commission acknowledged that there are challenges with the current form of water management, which are increasing with climate change. They agreed that the scale of the task of addressing the infrastructure needs requires reforms on the scale proposed. They submitted that the key goals of water management should be to ensure that water is accessible and affordable to all, with the poor and vulnerable a priority in any reform.
The EJP Commission supported the involvement of mana whenua and local councils in the proposed new structures, and safeguards against privatisation in the Bill. They acknowledged the traditional relationship of Māori with water, rather than masters of it.
“We welcome the parts of the Bill that would mean greater involvement of tangata whenua, mana whenua, in water management. We acknowledge those deep connections of tangata whenua with water.”
The oral submission is available to view on the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee Facebook page at https://fb.watch/fcb9la2r5F/ (starting at 3 hours 45 mins)
The written submission is on the parliament website at https://www.parliament.nz/resource/en-NZ/53SCFE_EVI_124081_FE9366/7ea1d723ea2fb1142dddfdc5877aa24157c13763