Greater Wellington’s success at national public sector awards
A ground-breaking approach to natural resource planning by Greater Wellington Regional Council and the iwi of the region has won an award at the Gen-I Public Sector Excellence awards run by the Institute of Public Administration, while its bulk water business received special recognition.
The bi-cultural Te Upoko Taiao committee shared the top award in the Crown – Maori Relationships category (sponsored by Te Puni Kokiri) with New Zealand Police’s Māori Pacific Ethnic Wardens programme.
The committee comprises equal numbers of councillors and iwi nominees and is responsible for supervising the development of the new Regional Plan for Wellington. It is co-chaired by a councillor and an iwi representative.
Council Chair Fran Wilde said the Council saw the instigation of the committee in 2009 as a demonstration of the Treaty partnership and that it was a natural fit between a council with significant resource management responsibilities and iwi who held mana whenua status in the region.
“The iwi of the region have been generous with their support of the concept and we are all learning much from the joint process, which has also involved an extraordinary degree of community input as a first step to the plan development.
Te Upoko Taiao Committee co-chair Te Waari Carkeek was thrilled with the acknowledgement for the approach.
“While the Treaty of Waitangi is a central theme in New Zealand’s resource management legislation, iwi have been frustrated by a general lack of meaningful involvement in the governance of natural resources. Te Upoko Taiao has filled that gap in the Wellington region.
“The new regional plan is a major policy development process relating to land and water, so sitting at the table allows iwi to make a real and long term difference for the region’s environment.”
The other co-chair, Cr Chris Laidlaw, said the Te Upoko Taiao Committee had provided Greater Wellington with a timely opportunity to significantly ‘up the game’ in terms of engagement and involvement of iwi.
He said the plan process so far had identified a number of key issues, including both urban and rural water quality, water allocation, coastal management and hazards management.
The regional plan is expected to be released for public discussion in late 2013.
Greater Wellington also received an IPANZ “Special Recognition” award for reforming its water supply business which supplies treated bulk water to Porirua, Wellington, Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt.
In 1996, Greater Wellington set out to reform its bulk water supply operation to significantly improve the effectiveness, efficiency and costs of the business.
The business has been a spectacular success both financially and in the quality of delivery.
In the last 15 financial years the price of water to the local councils who distribute it to consumers has been held or cut 13 times and debt has been reduced by 40% while the business has achieved international quality and environmental management standards and the highest Ministry of Health gradings. The business has adopted an innovative approach, including world-first technology and the commissioning of two in-system hydro generating plants.
Greater Wellington CEO David Benham, who for some years was in charge of the water operation, said that the award was a demonstration of the fact that local government could run a large utility to the highest standard.
“The business has shown the utmost dedication towards providing a value for money service that is efficient, innovative and provides some of the very best drinking water in the country. This could not have been achieved without the commitment and dedication of loyal staff over the years.”
Information about Te Upoko Taiao
Te Upoko Taiao (Natural Resource Management Committee) was established in October 2009. It is a co-chaired joint committee comprising seven elected Greater Wellington councillors and seven independent appointed members from the region’s mana whenua.
The Local Government Act includes several provisions that require councils to take account of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi by maintaining and improving opportunities for Māori to contribute to local government decision making. Most regional, city and district councils have some kind of formal mechanism for involving local iwi.
The GWRC already has a Charter of Understanding signed by the seven iwi in the region and has an active relationship with these iwi. Each of them has a different rohe and each was invited to nominate somebody with the skills that the new committee requires.
Although the Maori members have been nominated by the region’s “mana whenua” iwi, like the seven elected Councillor members, their role is to ensure that the new plan provides for the region as whole.
Te Upoko Taiao began overseeing the review of Greater Wellington’s existing plans in 2010 with community workshops to get people’s views on the state of the region’s natural resources – air, water, coasts, soils and biodiversity – and how these could be better managed.
At the same time the Committee began considering the data from Greater Wellington’s science programmes. A comprehensive report on the Wellington region’s air land and water has just been released (see www.gw.govt.nz/ser) and this is also informing the development of the new regional plan.
For more information, contact our media team
Back to top