Central government reforms
Central government is working on a number of significant reform packages that will directly impact us and the mahi (work) we carry out for our community. The reforms include Three Waters, resource management, and a review of local government. There's also a number of transformational programmes in progress for health, disability, and vocational education, and regulatory frameworks supporting emergency management, waste minimisation, housing and urban development, and climate change.
As your Council, we can’t look at these reforms in isolation, as many of their objectives and activities are intertwined. The changes will affect some of the largest activities we carry out for our community.
The next two years will be a complex and challenging time as we try to keep business going, understand and adapt to the changes at a local level, participate in any transition requirements, and ensure our iwi partners are involved throughout the process as we work together to determine the impacts of these reforms and how we might respond.
Government is carrying out an independent review of local government arrangements. This review will identify how our local democracy and governance system needs to evolve over the next 30 years to improve the social, cultural, economic, and environmental wellbeing of our communities, and to actively embody Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi).
The review could have far-reaching implications for us and our community. Fundamentally, a reform will change the system local government operates within, including:
- how decisions are made and by whom
- what local government does and how it does it
- how we're funded
- who local government needs to work with to support community wellbeing.
We presented to the review panel in March 2022 on key themes in the challenges and opportunities facing our communities and our sector, from a Kāpiti perspective.
The panel has now released a draft report, which is the next opportunity for us to provide feedback. Community members may also make their own submission. Submissions will close on 28 February 2023, and the final report is expected to be released in June 2023.
You can find out more on the Department of Internal Affair’s dedicated website, Review into the future for local government.
In 2019, central government’s Resource Management Review Panel released an issues and options paper on the current resource management system, aiming to:
- improve environmental outcomes
- better support urban and other development within environmental limits.
The main focus of the review was the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), but the panel also reviewed the relationship between the RMA, the Local Government Act 2002, Land Transport Management Act 2003, and the Climate Change Response Act 2002.
The panel determined the RMA should be repealed and replaced with new legislation. The proposed Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA) will be the main replacement for the RMA; however, Government have also proposed the Spatial Planning Act (SPA) and Climate Adaption Act (CAA) form part of the new resource management system.
Government introduced the Natural and Built Environments and the Spatial Planning Bills to Parliament in November 2022, and are expected to introduce the Climate Adaptation Bill in 2023.
Under the proposals, Natural and Built Environmental Plans (NBA) will give effect to a national planning framework that gives mandatory direction. NBA plans will replace current regional and district plans, with one consolidated plan for each region outlining how we regulate the environment, allocate resources, and use the land in each region. These will be developed by local government and local iwi, with community input.
Through the Spatial Planning Act (SPA), Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) will be developed to enable and drive changes in land use and the coastal marine area, while protecting and enhancing the natural environment.
An RSS will identify areas:
- suitable for development
- needing to be protected
- requiring infrastructure
- particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and natural hazards.
Regional Spatial Strategies will be developed by regional planning committees, with representatives from local government, hapū, iwi and Māori, and central government.
Under the proposals, future responsibilities for councils like ours will focus on consenting and compliance monitoring and enforcement.
The National and Built Environment Bill and Spatial Planning Bill are now going through the required Parliamentary process. A select committee is now seeking submissions to these new Bills. Through this process any member of the public can make a submission on the proposed changes. Submissions close at 11.59pm on Monday 30 January 2023 and can be made on the New Zealand Parliament website.
Central government is transforming the way drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater (the three waters) are delivered in Aotearoa New Zealand. This includes transferring responsibility for the infrastructure and delivery local water services to four publicly owned Water Service Entities on 1 July 2024.
Public submissions to the Select Committee for the Water Services Entity Bill closed in July 2022. The Bill allows the Government to establish the Water Service Entities, with the aim of providing all New Zealanders access to safe, affordable water services that meet their expectations now and in the future. Kāpiti will be part of Water Service Entity C, which covers from Gisborne in the North Island to Tasman in the South Island, encompassing about 1 million water connections.
Further legislation will be introduced later this year to enable the transfer of assets and liabilities from councils to the Water Services Entities, and integrate the entities into other regulatory systems. Another piece of legislation will cover economic regulation and consumer protection, to ensure water services are reasonable and affordable.
You can find out more about the Three Waters Reform Programme on the Department of Internal Affairs website. We also have information at Three Waters Reform about what the reform will mean for Kāpiti.