Watchdog required for safe drinking water

By Tema Hemi

The government has decided New Zealand needs a watchdog to make sure safe drinking water is available around the country.  It comes after a campylobacter outbreak in Havelock North in 2016, when 5,000 people got sick from drinking the town's tap water.

Jim Graham on Water New Zealand says, "I think what's really important is this organisation, the new regulator [of] drinking water, waste water and storm water has kaitiakitanga at its heart.  The regulation of drinking water in New Zealand will be competent and a lot better than it has been and hopefully that will ensure the safety of drinking water for all New Zealanders."

Water New Zealand says all New Zealand tap water should be drinkable and Māori need to have a say in the future of the precious resource.

"The government is very cognisant of the importance of iwi in these discussions about water and that iwi and Māori have a very important role to play in these questions," says Graham.

The Te Mana o Te Wai Fund has been created to help Māori improve water quality by supporting iwi and hapū in playing an active part in improving the water quality of their local freshwater bodies. 

There are thousands of private water bores throughout the country, particularly on farms and on lifestyle blocks, with many not meeting current water standards.