As of 2nd October, we’re 183 business days from our go-live on 1 July 2024.
As key parties involved and connected to the establishment of the water services entity for Northland and Auckland, I am pleased to share how we are progressing our transition plans in this update.
Parliament has now passed all the bills that form part of the Water Services Entities Act, which details the new arrangements for the provision of water services in New Zealand, including economic regulation and consumer protection. I acknowledge there is uncertainty with the upcoming election, however our focus is very clear. We need to continue to progress our plans to meet the legislated timeline set for us.
Our Establishment Board was appointed last month, with the members being Murray Bain ONZM (Chair), Hinerangi Raumati Tu’ua MNZM (Ngāti Mutunga, Waikato) and Brendon Green (Ngāti Hikairo, Waikato Tainui, Ngāpuhi). The board will provide governance and oversight as we work towards our go-live and it’s been great getting them inducted and involved in our work over the past few weeks. We are working on developing the Entity’s constitution, which will set out the procedures for the appointment of the Regional Representative Group (RRG) and any regional advisory panels. Once the constitution is set, the RRG will be appointed and provide regional and local level direction and oversight.
Our programme momentum continues to build, with our establishment team in place and delivery being the key driver. We have developed our Day 1 outcome statements, which describe what needs to be true across each function for go-live, and development for our internal policies is underway.
We are also working at speed to refine and consolidate the view of our transition plan to share with our external partners, to ensure oversight of the deliverables and decisions required over the coming months, and to reflect how various needs and resourcing are being managed and considered.
Relationship agreements and allocation schedules
The national Relationship Agreement template prepared by the National Transition Unit (NTU) has now been shared with officers in all councils.
Under legislation these agreements are to be approved by 31 March 2024. Between now and then, we will work together with each council to populate the template with specific information relevant for the respective parties and processes.
Many of our functional areas are also feeding into the Relationship Schedules, which will append to the overarching Relationship Agreement and outline how we will work with councils.
In parallel asset allocation schedules are being developed. We expect these to be approved in the November 2023 Establishment Board meeting before formal consultation with the LGO’s. These schedules also require final approval in March 2024.
Finally, a Relationship Agreement template will be shared in the coming weeks with transport authorities including Waka Kotahi and KiwiRail. We expect these to be relatively consistent with the agreements that are in place between the parties today.
Pricing and billing approach / Entity finances
In recent weeks, we have been focused on refining our approach to pricing and billing. I want to thank the finance teams across councils who have given their time to discuss the approach and challenges ahead – particularly in relation to stormwater billing. This is a challenging and complex area, and we greatly appreciate your support.
We have also been making progress in relation to understanding the funding requirements for the new entity and are working closely with Treasury and our colleagues at the NTU on how this will be managed.
Renewals is a major component of our AMP (Asset Management Plan) and the ability to better capture data and create insights that will inform a predictive renewals programme is very important.
A group, hosted and facilitated by Brendon Harkness (Watercare asset lifecycle manager), which included Healthy Waters, Far North and Whangārei met recently to discuss buried asset insights for renewals and asset lifecycle planning.
Professor Kobus van Zyl (University of Auckland) and Greg Preston (University of Canterbury) are currently leading a national project via the MBIE Building Innovation Project to create a national pipe database to better understand and predict pipe failure.
Opportunities like these for knowledge sharing and problem solving are invaluable as they enable us to connect more now so we can better integrate as a future entity team.
Workday is live
Our first digital product, Workday, is now live. This is a major milestone in the digital space. Workday is a people and workforce resources and management system designed to support payroll, HR and employee data.
Workday will initially be used to support the recruitment process for Wai Tāmaki ki Te Hiku. In other digital news, data migration work continues to progress, and we value the hard work and support of the Council teams who are helping to deliver these essential activities.
The organisation design for Wai Tāmaki ki Te Hiku has now been handed over from the NTU to the establishment team, which is a key milestone. This is attached for your reference. This structure will be integrated into Workday and signal the start of our HR systems taking shape.
It is important to note that because of ongoing staffing movements, position reviews and BAU across the councils and Watercare, this structure will continue to be managed as ‘live’ and updated accordingly right through to our establishment in 2024.
All staff have been notified that the PSA, AWUNZ and E tū unions have initiated bargaining for a water services entities multi-union and multi-employer collective agreement.
The Water Service Entity Act 2022 allows unions to initiate bargaining with water services entities prior to their establishment. Under the Act all employees whose position has been subject to review (the position review and pathway consultation) are to be treated as if they are employees of the relevant water services entity for the purpose of bargaining.
The unions are seeking to negotiate a new Multi-Union Multi-Employer Collective Agreement covering employees who will be employed in Wai Tāmaki ki Te Hiku (Entity A) and in the other 9 Water Services Entities.
Name and brand
Wai Tāmaki ki Te Hiku is the name gifted by Waipuna aa rangi to the new Water Services Entity for Northland and Auckland. Waipuna aa rangi is a collective of iwi leaders from across the Northland and Auckland region who established themselves to engage proactively in the water services reform programme.
Wai, at the front of the name, speaks to the intent of Te Mana o te Wai, which places the wellbeing of water at the forefront of all water services decision-making.
Tāmaki is the name of a region of historical and cultural significance in the expansion of te iwi Māori across the Pacific over the past 6,000 years.
Te Hiku is an abbreviation of Te Hiku o Te Ika a Māui Tikitiki-a-Taranga, which means the “Tail of the Fish,” and acknowledges Māui’s legendary hauling up of the North Island, with a specific reference to the north and far north parts of the region. Together the name means “the converging waters from Auckland to the far north.”
As part of the establishment of the Entity, a full brand process and guidelines are being developed and will be shared publicly in due course.
Thanks for your time and I trust this information was of value to you. Please feel free to contact me with any questions about our programme or upcoming activities.
Ngā mihi nui,
Chief Executive, Wai Tāmaki ki Te Hiku
Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs
Auckland, New Zealand