Uncertainty at Council as Changes Come Through from Central Government


Councillor Lisa Thomson dropped by the studio this morning to chat about council happenings including the Long Term Plan (LTP).

With council debt rising nationwide, Waikato District Council is currently facing a number of extra uncertainties due to legislative and policy changes from the new government. This is on top of recent inflationary pressures. The evolving three waters initiative from the government is making it particularly hard to finalise the LTP (Council’s ten year spending plan), while Waka Kotahi is still waiting on a new Government Policy Statement on Land Transport and is unable to answer questions relating to local challenges like making the Greenslade Road section of SH23 intersection safer.

Central government has recently repealed Labour’s Three Waters Reforms which has put a number of councils around the country on a ‘watchlist’ for negative credit ratings with the expectation that councils have some work to do under the new government’s Local Water Done Well plan.

“The implications of changes to the three waters reform is huge for us. Same with the uncertainty around the amount of funding from Waka Kotahi to the Council for our roading network,” says Lisa, adding that continuing essential infrastructure work on wastewater, roads and parks and reserves has been challenging.

The new government has proposed the Local Water Done Well plan to replace Three Waters. 

The first piece of legislation, expected to be enacted by mid-year, enables neighbouring councils to collaborate and establish "council-controlled organisations" to manage water services independently, with access to long-term borrowing for infrastructure funding separate from council budgets. 

Councillors will be meeting next week to further discuss the uncertainties in detail with the new  rating announcements planned for July.  Although the new Local Government Minister has said councils might be able to skip some of their normal consultation and auditing processes or delay their work by three months, our council may yet decide to delay the finalisation of their big spending plan until next year.


Following claims of another accidental wastewater discharge on the Raglan Notice Board, the council confirmed that this most recent issue did in fact comply with their resource consent. 

A recent article in the Waikato Times based on an interview with Ra Puriri used the term sewage in relation to treated wastewater when discussing the recent release. Lisa explained that this characterisation was highly misleading, as it implied raw sewage was being released into the harbour. She clarified that sewage is what enters the wastewater treatment plant, while effluent is the treated product discharged from the treatment pipes, having undergone processes to remove contaminants, making it suitable for release.

Work has also begun on Raglan’s general wastewater treatment plant upgrade - costing around $26 million -  which will include a number of upgrades that will improve the plants ability to treat wastewater to a higher standard.

There has also been a memorandum of understanding signed with a local landowner in regards to the land-based disposal option with another plan to look at Wainui Reserve as another location for disposal.

Lisa says that if anyone is after factual information about the wastewater treatment plant, head to the council website, attend one of the zoom meetings or contact Lisa directly.

New Subdivision and Future Growth

Plans have been unveiled for a new subdivision of 400 new residential sections in Raglan. These draft plans include the construction of a new road from Wainui Road to Te Hutewai Road near the Xtreme Zero Waste entrance, providing access to most sections with further details still under discussion.

Lisa emphasises that the subdivision is still in the planning stages and will need to go through council processes to gain the correct approvals but that new subdivisions also raise questions around whether Raglan needs a structure plan in order to plan for the future growth of our town.


Former deputy Mayor Aksel Bech has introduced a new housing portal aimed at supporting Hamilton City Council's housing strategy, which includes initiatives like inclusionary zoning. This portal serves as a valuable resource for individuals seeking information or wishing to make submissions related to housing matters. 

Lisa says that discussions are underway regarding the housing strategy for Waikato District Council and will be reviewed by the Sustainability and Wellbeing Committee. The strategy prioritises key factors such as affordable housing, Māori Housing, and intergenerational housing, with an emphasis on an actionable plan to guide council decisions and initiatives.

This action plan serves as the foundation, exploring avenues such as public land acquisition, development on Māori land and the implementation of inclusionary zoning to ensure the availability of affordable housing. While the exact definition of "affordable" may be up for debate, this mechanism provides a framework for addressing housing challenges.

Community members are encouraged to explore the housing strategy draft on the District Council website, where it will be available for review. 

As the population expands, Lisa says it’s important to consider factors such as parks, reserves, sports facilities and schools to ensure that the future requirements of our community are adequately addressed.

Other news

  • Waitangi Exhibition 2024 -  Due to the success of the Waitangi Day event and the many requests for other opportunities to continue to learn, the Toitu Te Tiriti Exhibition will be open from March 12th - March 29th 10am - 2pm at the Raglan Old Arts Centre.  Anyone wanting to be kept updated with ongoing events can email  tetirititoitu@gmail.com to be added to the mailing list or follow the Facebook page Toitu te Tiriti Whaingaroa Raglan.
  • Community members are invited to join a trip to the Te Kauwhata Wastewater plant next week - contact Lisa for more information - lisa.thomson@waidc.govt.nz
  •  Keeping of Animal pre-engagement survey is out now.
  •  The Destination Management Organisation are managing the overhaul of the water tower artwork with a steering committee put together to oversee expressions of interest.