Maria Nepia (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Rākaipaaka) has been announced as acting Executive Director, Three Waters Iwi/Māori at Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs (DIA).
DIA Deputy Chief Executive, Michael Lovett says the new position signals the role iwi/Māori will play in the Three Waters programme and across the Local Government system.
“Maria has worked extensively across the iwi resource and environmental planning space and the interface between iwi and local and central government, coming to the Department from the Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board,” says Mr Lovett.
“Maria brings insight and experience to this new role that will allow DIA to build more effective relationships and partnerships with iwi/Māori.
The appointment follows the appointments of Hamiora Bowkett and Heather Shotter as Executive Directors to the Three Waters reform programme and the announcement of the Three Waters National Transition Unit Board, to be chaired by Sir Brian Roche. The Board is tasked with advising the Chief Executive on the transition and establishment of the water services entities.
“All New Zealanders need safe, reliable drinking water, wastewater and stormwater – the three waters services. We depend on these for the health and wellbeing of our communities and our environment. However, 35,000 New Zealanders get sick every year from drinking tap water and nearly half a million people have to boil their tap water so it’s safe to drink,” says Mr Lovett.
“Local government is facing significant challenges in managing these services. To address this, the Government is progressing reforms so that water services will be improved and provided by four publicly-owned entities from July 2024. These new appointments will help drive the Government’s water reform programme.”
Delivering positive and collaborative outcomes across Local Government is one of the ways the Department is helping ensure iwi, hapū and communities across New Zealand are safe, resilient and thriving, he said.