Turbulent times . . . Huurnui Mayor Marie Black.

Hundreds are expected at a community gathering in Omihi on Sunday, November 14, to oppose the Three Waters Reform

The Hurunui District Council is holding the public meeting on Sunday to give the local community an opportunity to have their say on the Government’s proposed reforms.

Mayor Marie Black says Sunday’s gathering at the Glenmark Rugby Grounds will provide a forum for locals to discuss their concerns.

Hurunui District councillors have unanimously adopted a statement opposing the Government’s Three Waters Reform.

“We know however, that the council’s voice alone isn’t enough. Ratepayers have real issues with the proposed reforms and Sundays meeting is all about giving them a voice.”

Mayor Black says there is a real sense that water assets belong to the community.

“Pipes were literally laid by hand by locals in the 1950s and 1960s, when land owners were given the choice to chip in and pay for new infrastructure or pay in manual labour.

“It means that for many farmers today, it was their fathers and grandfathers who actually built their water systems.

“There’s a real lack of understanding in Wellington about how important the ownership of water assets is to our community.”

Mrs Black says there is great value in the local relationships that operate between local landowners and those who currently travel over private farm land to access reservoirs for maintenance and upkeep.

These relationships are critical and valued and haven’t been factored into the proposed reforms which completely ignore the goodwill aspect.

She says the proposed reforms also ignore the importance of local knowledge.

“Most farmers know exactly who their utilities person is. If they have a problem, they call them and it is fixed. Having these local relationships is priceless.”

Hurunui District Council chief executive Hamish Dobbie says the reforms open the door to the future privatisation of water assets.

The event will run from 2.30pm to 4pm.