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Dr Muriel Newman

The Water Debate

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Fresh water is an election issue. The export of bottled water has become the focus of an emotional debate that is being relentlessly politicised and propagandised.

Commercial water bottlers have been demonised as exploitative – extracting vast amounts of our scarce natural water without payment and without adding any benefit to New Zealand.

The facts show otherwise.

According to the Minister for the Environment, New Zealand has plentiful fresh water supplies, with an average of 2.3 metres of rain falling nationwide each year. This equates to 145 million litres per person per year – seven times as much per person as Australia, 16 times as much as the US, and 70 times as much as the UK or China.

Of the 600 trillion litres or so of water that flows through New Zealand’s lakes, rivers and aquifers annually, only 11 trillion litres – around 2 percent – is extracted. That means 98 percent of New Zealand’s annual fresh water resource remains unused.

Of the water that is extracted, around six trillion litres is used for irrigation, two and a half trillion for industry, two trillion for local authority supplies, and half a trillion for livestock.

There are over 20,000 water permits on issue throughout the country – of those, 41 are for the bottling of fresh water, and a further 30 are for multiple purposes including water bottling. 

Only 23 water bottling permits are said to be currently in use.

Last year, bottled water exports accounted for only nine million litres – a miniscule 0.0001 percent of New Zealand’s total annual fresh water use.

While water is, of course, a major component of many other exports – each litre of wine exported is said to have used 200 litres in its production and each litre of milk, 250 litres of water – in comparison, it only takes a litre of water, to produce a litre of bottled water for export.

Like any other business, water bottling companies also contribute to the wider economy through processing, packaging, and transport – not to mention employing staff, leasing premises, paying rates and so on. But none of that gets mentioned in this debate.

Before looking into the politics, let’s review the legal situation.

Since fresh water falls naturally as rain and snow and is essential for life on earth, it is regarded at law as a public good resource that must be available to all.

Accordingly, under common law and statute, all New Zealand’s fresh water is vested in the Crown and cannot be privately owned. That means that while landowners may have rights to the beds and banks of the rivers, streams and lakes that lie on their properties, they don’t own the water.

Water users can be charged for permits to take water, and councils can charge households and businesses for providing water – either through rates or by volume – with a fee that covers the cost of filtering, pumping, piping and treating the water supplies.

Retired Judge and former Law Lecturer Anthony Willy, explains the situation in this way: “New Zealand is a country which is governed by the rule of law. We should therefore begin with how water was treated by the common law – ‘common’ because it applies to all without regard to privilege or special interest pleading by minority groups.

“At common law land including the land underneath water was regarded as a commodity like any other that could be owned and transacted. Water was never regarded by the common law as a commodity in that sense. In the cases of Mason v Hill decided in 1833 and Ballard v Tomlinson decided in 1885 the Courts held that a land owner had no right to the ownership of water which either flows through, or percolates within that land.

“In this way the courts recognised that water like air is not only vital to the survival of all species on the planet but is something in which humanity has no hand in creating. It therefore, like air, occupies a unique status in the eyes of the common law – it cannot be owned by anybody.”

David Round, lecturer in law at the University of Canterbury, concurs: “At common law there was no ownership of water; a landowner had the right to use the water that flowed over his land, but he was obliged to pass it on to landowners further downstream undiminished in quality or quantity. In 1967 Parliament made the Water and Soil Conservation Act, which declared that except in certain pretty limited situations no-one could use any ‘natural water’ – which is all water, frozen, liquid or steam, not in a pipe, tank or cistern – without a permission – a ‘water right’ as it was called.”

While the statutory responsibility for allocating and controlling fresh water rests with the Crown, that duty was passed on to Regional Councils and Unitary Authorities through the 1991 Resource Management Act.

The reality is that the present water debate is politically motivated. New Zealanders are being manipulated by activist groups running well-orchestrated mass hysteria campaigns to introduce a tax on the commercial use of water – a move that suits Maori interests, since any charge on water will open the door to new taxpayer-funded Treaty settlements and water royalties in perpetuity.

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, free-lance journalist Michael Coote outlines the demands that are being made by one of the high profile activist cheerleaders:

“Te Awaroa: 1000 Rivers’ patron Dame Anne Salmond is publicly advocating the New Zealand Maori Council’s National Freshwater Policy Framework proposal to create a waterways commission that holds all bodies of water in trust and charges for their use.

“It is a stepping stone to charging water levies.

“The Maori Council’s plan is to create a perpetual revenue stream flowing into the pockets of Maori tribes in the form of royalties paid from levies charged nationwide on commercial water usage.

“This objective is part of a thrust to impose a royalty economy of racial tithing across New Zealand’s natural resources to the benefit of Maori.”

And that’s what’s at the heart of this debate – Maori rights to own and control of fresh water.

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark understood this only too well when, in 2006, iwi leaders, believing that Labour was planning to introduce a charge on water, demanded a Treaty settlement. They considered that if a property right was being created, they had a claim to it under the Treaty of Waitangi – similar to the situation in 1986, when fishing quotas created property rights and they received a lucrative $170 million fisheries settlement.

With the Ministry for the Environment estimating the value of New Zealand’s fresh water resource to be over $35 billion a year, it’s not difficult to see what’s driving iwi demands.

To her credit, Helen Clark unilaterally rejected the demands of iwi leaders, upholding the strong position taken by successive governments, that water is controlled and managed by the Crown for all New Zealanders.

However, under Jacinda Ardern’s leadership, Labour’s principled stand against Maori claims for the ownership of water has been sidelined, and if she were in Government, the Treaty of Waitangi gravy train would start up again.

Labour would introduce a charge – to be determined after the election – on water bottlers and other commercial users of water, with royalties shared between regional councils and Maori. 

In effect, Labour is keeping the public in the dark about the cost of their water tax – and the expected Treaty settlement – a lack of transparency that’s revealing, especially since it’s householders that will foot the bill through higher prices for food and anything produced using water. 

It’s the same story with the Greens – they are also refusing to reveal the level of their proposed water tax on commercial users until after the election, although they have specified that water bottlers will pay a 10 cents a litre royalty on all domestic sales and another 10 cents a litre on all exports.

Half of all royalties collected would be paid to Maori, a decision they justify by saying, “The Waitangi Tribunal has found on numerous occasions that Maori did not cede sovereignty of natural resources through the Treaty of Waitangi… Revenue would also be directed to mana whenua in recognition that they have Article 2 rights under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and kaitiaki responsibilities for water.”

The Greens also plan to “Strengthen the Mana Whakahono a Rohe participation arrangements in the RMA”, to enable greater involvement by Maori in council decisions around water, including “notification, resource consent applications, and RMA enforcement.”

National’s approach to fresh water policy is reflected in the updated National Policy Statement on Freshwater that they have just released, which elevates Maori spiritualism and rights over water to new levels through statutory obligations imposed on local councils: “Upholding Te Mana o te Wai acknowledges and protects the mauri of the water. This requires that in using water you must also provide for Te Hauora o te Taiao (the health of the environment), Te Hauora o te Wai (the health of the waterbody) and Te Hauora o te Tangata (the health of the people). Te Mana o te Wai incorporates the values of tangata whenua and the wider community in relation to each water body.”

Essentially, National has been working with the Iwi Leaders Group on water policy since 2012, when their partial privatisation of state owned power companies triggered an urgent claim to the Waitangi Tribunal for the ownership of water. Over the years, iwi demands have changed from ownership to control of fresh water – along with royalties in perpetuity.

National ceded to iwi demands when they introduced their Mana Whakahono a Rohe provisions – that will be used to effect Maori control of fresh water – into the RMA, without any consultation at all with the wider public.

Once National’s Technical Advisory Group – established in collaboration with iwi leaders – reports back their water allocation policy proposals after the election, Maori will be elevated to co-govern and control fresh water decision-making in New Zealand, in conjunction with councils.

When questioned at a recent post-Cabinet press conference, over whether National has agreed to Maori having the right to participate in the allocation and management of fresh water, Prime Minister Bill English said not so far: “We’ve been discussing that with them for a number of years, and we have certainly not agreed to that”.

But for how long?

In comparison, while New Zealand First’s leader Winston Peters says they are opposed to race-based policies, their website shows contradictions.

On fresh water it states, “The Treaty of Waitangi does not confer rights to take or use water upon Maori which are greater or lesser than the rights of any other New Zealander”, but then goes on to say, “Maori have shared guardian status and therefore have a right to shared governance in some areas of water management”.

It also claims, “The proposed National Policy Statement on Water Resource Uses must be developed following a comprehensive process of engagement with Maori for the purpose of meeting their cultural values as far as possible.”

Their website is also silent on the consequences of the Maori claim that would be triggered by their plan to introduce a royalty on fresh water exports.

With ACT pushing for tradable water rights – irrespective of any consequential Treaty claim – and the Maori Party in favour of Maori ownership and control of fresh water, it seems that going into the 2017 General Election, those New Zealanders who want decisions over the allocation of fresh water to remain in the hands of democratically elected councillors – rather than vested interest Maori groups – have no champions at all in Parliament.

What an unacceptable state of affairs this is for our democracy.


Do you support a charge being imposed on all commercial users of water? 


*Poll comments are posted below.


*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.

Click to view x 120


Water should be free for ALL New Zealanders for ever more. Paula
Possibly on water bottled and sent overseas. Mike
Yes but the tax should go to the national coffers and no special groups should get a share of that tax. It should be for the benefit of all New Zealanders Robert
Our democracy is being threatened by left-wing ideology and ideologues and J. Ardern is one of them. Monica
It will just set up a stream of non ending increase in inflation in this country. Once a rate has been agreed to, there will be nothing to prevent the regular increase in this rate to be paid.  Pierre
Water should be free to all New Zealanders. Government control is essential. It certainly should not be controlled by Maori or other non government agency. Charging for water would increase the cost of living. Philip
It’s an absurd idea – basically unworkable as the costs of setting up, monitoring and the resultant increase on end-users’ products mean no gain at all for everyone Another fatuous idea from the idiotic Left.. Jim
Absolutely Not! People must read the party policies carefully prior to voting It is not a beauty competition. I was considering voting NZF but having read their policy on water -no way! Judith
Maori are not indigenous,they are refugees of Formosa/Taiwan. Mike
It would have no end. Morris
For NZ consumers no charge, but any water that is exported as bottled water a charge per tonne should be applied, but the money charged should be put into the local council where the water is taken from AND NOT given, even a small amount to the bunch of greedy half cast that call themself the custodian of NZ. Richard
But only on those merely putting it in a bottle and exporting it. Steve
For god sake no more taxes, enough is enough give control to a group of half pie maori grabbers will spell disaster for all kiwi. James
NO, God help this country if there is ever a charge for water. Athol
Its clear from the numbers that NZ has an abundance of fresh water. There is no justification to charging for it. Water users have to pay water rights and for infrastructure to get water to where they need it. The use of this water creates jobs, profits and taxes so the country directly benefits from its use. The denands that water bottlers should pay for the water is totally emotive claptrap and is clearly a trojan horse for other agendas. When are Kiwis going to wake up that they constantly being played, like a bunch of broken fiddles. What do these clowns think happens to the water in aquifers if it is not used by water bottlers or others. Do they think it just stays there in a great big undergound lake for ever? This water is constantly flowing and anyone who knows the coastal waterways well will know where huge freshwater springs wellup in the sea as the aquifer water flows through the system. Ronmac
Its free to use Warren
Trillions of litres of water fall on NZ each year and it is madness to introduce a tax that will add cost to every individual and household in NZ. I agree totally with your summation the whole programme is being run by a bunch of idealogues whose only interest is tax, tax and more tax. Roger
Any charges on water should only be applied to the disposal of it. Run off into rivers and waterways should be clean enough to drink,, for humans, fish and organisms in the food chain. If not within a users capability to do this, local bodies should be able to recover the cost of doing it for them….including Maori users! Vic
I never buy bottled water unless I am overseas. It is a waste of money!Like most households I pay the Local Council for what is charged through my water meter. If a further charge is placed on the supply of water, that is unacceptable and will open the supply to a wave of gimme demands from Maoris. That is totally unacceptable. The Council charge can be accepted as it is paying for pipework, dams and treatment where necessary. Paying for water cannot. Chris
I do not know why we virtually give the water away to overseas interests. The local councils should be getting a higher dollar @ liter and that money goes towards reducing each ratepayers rates. The water does not belong to the MAORI. Never was theirs to begin with and will never be in the end. Wayne
We live in Tauranga – where there is a water rate – this is for maintenance of pipes and pumps..Very happy to pay that. ..Previous addresses were using bore and tank water, no cost to us , but we learnt how to conserve water. This can be done by all commercial and industrial businesses – no charge needed for them… Once Maori own the “water” it is they who want to sell it – to make more money… The water – wherever it comes from belongs to All NZ’s. Elayne
You are correct Muriel, the public have no champions in Parliament when it comes to water issues. However, National (who I used to support) appear to be the most devious, and once are SNEAKILY pandering to the Maori Elite. It sounds defeatist, but whoever gets the next 3 years, the public is once again going to be rorted for something that ellegedly belongs to EVERYONE! But still gives special treatment to a rascist group, and once again the end users will pay (ie:householders, fgrocery consumers etc.  Carolyn
I have 2 x 22500 litre water tanks that get filled from the water on our roof, will I have to pay maori for the privilege? Any maori coming on my property trying to charge me might end up with a bad case of lead poisoning. Stevo
Certainly the use of water cannot be free but what is charged and how it is charged is the overriding problem. Just remember that every householder pays for his/her water. Whether it is charged for specifically by what goes through the householder’s water meter, or whether the cost of providing that water and the pipes that bring it is included in local body rates. Charging a quite small royalty for water being exported sounds sensible but it must be firmly made clear that if a royalty is charged for water being exported that royalty goes into the consolidated fund of the government for the benefit of ALL citizens. Then there is the matter of a charge for water being used for rural irrigation, whether for wine production or for other crops or for the production of farm animals. Here a charge is needed, although it may be quite a light one, because pollution of underground aquifers and pollution of rivers takes place as a consequence of this water use. So the tax here is not for the water but for the policing of pollution and for the minimisation of that pollution where it is discovered. There is no place in this for any featherbedding by racial opportunists. Rob
In saying no I would support provincial councils taking a royalty/tax from any company foreign or other wise exporting it and the money used for the benefit of the benefit of the community it being Hospitals, roading/rail infrastructure etc. Robert
This is another maori driven rort using Labour and greens as the front. No legal right to charge for anything. End of story Rob
Although I have voted no I feel that purchasers of water sold overseas should be charged. Jim
Such a charge would re-energise the Maori gravy train and put agriculture back for years. Irvine
Race relations are steadily declining in NZ due to the Greed of Part Maori. Ken
No. the bureucracy needed to collect it on would cost more than the revenue likely to be received. the possible exception beieng a royalty charge as applies to other mineral eextractions.  Ray
How much water is there in the beer???? Brian
More race based privilege will surely result. Alan
But irrigators should pay for any downstream effects of their environmental pollution and the necessary cleanup. Graham
Yes if water is exported Richard
However I do believe that New Zealand should benefit from the profits of water exported. I use the analogy of oil that is also a natural resource in some Countries and they do not allow it to be freely exported. I do not support any tax on its use within New Zealand. Peter
Only on water exported in pure form ,including deviant ways to change it’s purity status. Richard
In principle yes as far as paying for the infrastructure necessary to provide water is concerned.. But I am astounded that councils all around the country allow foreign companies to use our water ( and that is always the best quality water) to make a lot of money overseas and (paying a pittance to the stupid councils ) instead of bottling and selling the water for our own interests.This would and could be a important income stream for councils and a relieve for tax payers could be one of the rewards. It can’t be expensive to set up and run a water bottling plant. But there we can see the lack of common sense and commercial skill.!!! Otherwise . WATER IS A COMMON GOOD!!!!! Period. All political parties who are willing to (literally) piss away our god given rights to this common good called water are committing treason towards everyone of us for the sake of satisfying yet another brazen and racist demand of this so called tribal elite. That MUST not happen or we will be in for some serious trouble before long. Michael
Its the ‘Thin edge of the wedge’. Carl
Fresh water like clean air is a sacred resource that should stay available to all New Zealanders .  Christine
Well we all have to pay for water costs me $30 a mth Peter
We as Ratepayers have to Pay for water so they should too and the money should not go in to iwi pockets but to the people of New Zealand by way of Infrastructure which benefits the population as a whole Laurel
A Charge should be levied only on those companies that bottle it and send it overseas There should be no charges to farmers. businesses in town pay water rates. None of royalties should go to any Greedy Maori IWI but to the Government coffers Colin
A totally ridiculous assumption that water can be owned. For a charge to be made in addition to that already paid to councils for supply of water, one has to start from a position that water is “owned”. It seems to me that ownership is only wanted when there is money to be made. Those who consider that a charge should be made for water should “go away quickly” Ray
Voting no may stop the Maori claiming a water right hand out and control of water. Tony
No because the ultimate aim is for water charges to be divided up by racial policies.  John
Time a stand was made on Maori demands. One law for all. Martin
Maori are wanting to charge for something that is free. Exactly what they accuse the water bottlers of doing. Jon
Not all commercial users, but there remains a case to recover something from those who are only bottling for export. Overseas owned operations ship out product at cost, so pay little or no NZ Company tax, all the profit is made overseas. So NZ needs to get its slice in some way! Hugh
I have read your comments and any charges introduced, would eventually create a disastrous situation for NZ in so many ways and benefit some in an irreversible manner. Wayne
Only where the profits from such use are going off shore. Brian
Point here is if no body owns the water as Labour and National say , how can they tax something they do not own either???? Pat
Yes, with proceeds used for the benefit of ALL NZ’ers. But remember, the possibility of nuclear war is a reality and rainfall could become nuclear rain – underground water would become the most sought after commodity on the planet.  Mitch
We must be very careful not to open up another gravely train for all the iwi around the country Gaire 
Water should be free for everyone. K
New Zealand is in a very sorry state when we have no electable group who consider we are all equal under the law, a group that would work to unit this country rather than racially divide by allocating control of water to a racial group.  Sam
This in no way should move into private use being charged for, other than as councils are doing it now.None of the monies collected should go to Maori,NONE. Peter
In the end it’s just another tax and in the end it’s the consumer that pays. Andrew
It’s sad and critical time for democracy in New Zealand. Who is going to stand up and be counted against all this nonsense. Has Bill English got the backbone to deal to this on-going nonsense. Albert
This is an action designed to facilitate Maori gaining an income stream in perpetuity. John
Democracy out the door John
Only on water exporters and the funds go to that district. And there right to draw water is to be canceled before restrictions are placed on local commercial users. Steven
Water belongs to all. Ken
Water should be free to all. Richard
Please, no taxes or levies on water. It has been said before – taxation is legalised theft ! Just how much more legalised theft are we prepared to put up with ? Next it will be daylight tax or as it was in ancient Britain, Window Tax, possibly the origin of the expression “daylight robbery.” Bricked-up windows were the evidence of avoiding the tax. It was first imposed in 1696 and repealed in 1851 – 155 years ! Scotland and France imposed it as well. It’s time we had a Theft Revolt ! Don
Export bottles only Leigh
Provided water is classified as a public resource, owned by everyone and the revenue goes into the public purse, ring-fenced to maintain the resource in both quality and quantity. It must NOT become a political or racial issue. New Zealand must overcome this iwi resource grab. There are not many who can claim more than 50% Maori ancestry so why oh why do we pander to them as if they were a majority? We must stop this insidious and false cultural creep into everything Maori want to get their hands on. Graeme
There should be a charge by local bodies for reticulation and purification, and ALSO a levy on all polluters to cover the cost of pollution damage recovery. Coal minersand foresters have to pay for environmental reinstatement, why not those in the agricultural sector? Graeme
No but should charge for bottled water exported and it belongs to all New Zealand. Govt to collect as a tax to be spent as see fit but not to supply the maori gravy train! Nigel
No not at all Nev Kath
By using the term “Commercial users” it is obvious that the user is making a profit from it’s use. Even farmers (who I generally support) make a “profit” in the sense that they can stock heavier when irrigated by water than not and so effectivelt get a return on the use of the water. Folk like bottlers should definitely be charged for using a natural resourse. Bearing in mind that Maori were definitely NOT the first people to settle in NZ, whether they should get as much as 50% of that return is strongly debatable. It should all go to the regional council for regional development. Ted
Go to hell on taxes on water!!!! Phil
What tax will be imposed on water services to households? Water companies also make a profit on this water. Voters do not believe they should be taxed only disgusting bottling companies. We are indeed a sad nation sometimes. John
Only on companies that are bottling it for Export & Local sales where they make a profit, Not other people if they are drawing water off there own property for no commercial gain. We already pay for water throught the ACC water in & water out. Geoff
I think that it will do much more harm than any good through both direct & unintended negative consequences. Cyril
It belongs to all NZers. Mike
If we don’t charge then the maori won’t want it! Bill
Maoris will just hook into the charge and make it yet another greedy avenue money stream for racists. Bud
Frightening really Maori who aren’t actually indigenous to NZ, are getting greedier and more controlling and demanding all the time. As they get greater control there are less and less who will stand up to them. Peter
Nl charge in NZ. Charge for exported water only. John
Sick and tired of the I Want Its  Chris
Selective industrial exporters only IAN
I believe that anyone should be able to keep and dispose of water as they wish, which they have entrapped directly from rainfall , snow or similar, on their own property, by their own means, as long as they are not prejudicing the well-being of others in doing so. This includes such means as a reservoir , lake or other receptacle, regardless of size. It could not ,obviously, include water from shared streams, rivers or other shared waterways or sources, nor any way which could deprive another of a fare entitlement of water supply or harmfully affect the enjoyment of life of any other person. As a Kiwi of Maori descent I do not believe that gives me any further entitlement than any other New Zealander . One Law for all should be the over-riding principle. It means that they should not stop water from flowing through their property from a source which others have historically benefited. (Obviously , drainage considerations in a built up area require special considerations).  Harvey
There are enough charges already with WaterCare!! Suzanne
The question is not very well worded, but the introductory article explains the situation very well. Before deciding who to vote for this election, I have looked at all ‘Parties’ web-sites to decide where my vote should go. I have never believed that a vote for a minor ‘Party’ is a wasted vote. I have come to believe that a vote for either of the now 3 major ‘Parties’ is a wasted vote, as the small print means they all end up in the same place any-way. All three have a desire to govern, none [unlike Trump] have a desire to lead us back to national sovereignty. Only the Conservative Party, who the media refuse to give any coverage too at all, give any indication that the voice of the people should rule, not the hidden agenda of the politicians. Interesting how most successive governments have sold or privatised most of our assets, yet refuse to lose control of our now extremely left leaning news networks.. A.G.R.
Elite Maori (IWI) are not entitled to any royalties (charges). This includes all commercial users of water. David
Because of the “unintended consequences” of the ability to simply extend the policy to rate every citizen and animal, and give in to Maori bribes. Gordon
NO NO and No Vaughan
NZCPR wrote, “Last year, bottled water exports accounted for only nine million litres, a miniscule 0.0001 percent of New Zealand’s total annual fresh water use. And that’s whats at the heart of this debate, Maori rights to own and control of fresh water”. Before the Treaty was signed the 1839 Charter, Letters Patent had already rendered New Zealand as within the boundaries of New South Wales (NSW), all the Treaty did was endorse existing law. Our true founding document separated us from NSW to create NZ an independent British colony and this is Queen Victoria’s Royal Charter of 16-11-1840, ratified on 03-05-1841 the day New Zealand was born. This is Governments (plural) darkest secret or it would be public knowledge. According to New Zealand law, fresh water belongs to no one, including racist entities. George
We tread on dangerous ground in considering a change to the way water is dealt with. Does it stop here?? Is air the next?? or sunshine?? All these items have been given freely for all to enjoy. May it stay that way, without political interference. Brian
Commercial bottlers for export only, if legally possible . Philip
Nothing is free  Mike
The idea of taxing water is ridiculous. It is a natural life giving product like the air we breathe. If it is to be taxed at source, do you tax the clouds that it comes from or the sea water that evaporates to form the clouds! Nonsense leads to more nonsense. Ron
I voted no because I think an across-the-board charge for commercial users could be unfair and economically damaging to some industries. Why can’t this proposal be dealt with on a case by case basis. There would seem to be some legitimacy to apply extra charges to, for example, bottled water exporters … but lets keep that money in government coffers and not send it down the toilet bowl by handing it to the Maori Mafia.  Steve
Absolutely not, it will only lead to claims and a flow on increase goods / taxes  Lawrie
Hydro power prices will jump up, nearly ALL food prices will jump up. This is NZ water. by all means charge those bottling ‘free’ water and exporting same for profit. Anyone taking, exporting and profiting from OUR water – yes charge them off. shore  Stuart
Hell NO! Not if it means paying maori for this, thus racially discriminating against all other citizens! Is there no limit to maori arrogance and greed!?  n
Water is here for all New Zealander’s. Sally
Water tax opens the door to greedy maori aspirations. Jeff
Rain, snow.air is FREE NOONE OWNS IT & politicians NEED to be told this VERY STRONGLY. Cindy
Export of water brings in foreign currency (like any other export) creates jobs / wealth and generates revenue that is taxed (and thus supports the Government). John
No, but those businesses that bottle water for sale must be paying tax on any income derived from the sale of the product. Likewise any water used for the purpose of irrigation should have the set up and distribution paid for by the users not the taxpayer. Any farmer or grower who contributes toward an irrigation system that is likely to be restricted during times of drought to maintain minimum flows has got to be nuts. Terry
Why change something which is working?  Anon
Nobody owns water. David
Only those exporting fresh water in its raw state ie without added value.  Graham
After reading the latest information you have provided, checking some of the statements. I have reversed my opinion and NOT in favour of water charges per say. Graeme
On commercial users only.. definitely not on residential users. Carl
In light of the proportion of total water that is taken for bottling and sale, let it continue. Nobody can charge for water, only for its processing and delivery. Terry
The largely uncontrolled take and use of water irrespective of its subsequent use has led to the dried up , polluted riverbeds and compromised aquifers that have manifested themselves in only the last 40 years or so. Getting something for nothing will always lead onto a sense of entitlement; it seems to be human nature. Our Welfare System is riven with it. The water issue is generally just a big business example of the same attitude. A fair charge dependent on use and benefit to country with the revenue collected by the Crown and used solely by the Crown to enhance and promote our country’s water health is the sensible path to take. Gary
The theory sounds good but Leaves the door open to exploitation by the IWI Elite  Bryan
We all know what will happen in the end — the greed of iwi will step in and claim cash as usual mentioning some fictional right. Alan
On exported fresh water only.  Marshall
A charge only for water being exported. Margaret
No No No ! The view that water belongs to all of us goes back to Roman times Justinian I (482-565) held that water along with air, light, the sea and the seashore were elements that were not capable of individual ownership. How right he was. David
No one owns the water. Alton
Where will it stop. As you say it’ll give Maori a Foot in the door. Graeme
I do not approve of charges being imposed on all commercial users, and I would qualify that by saying that my main objection to it would be in relation to the maori gravy train that it would create. Money for jam. If there were water charges in this instance, then the revenue from that must only be collected for the benefit of all New Zealanders through the crown. Also, the thought of maoris getting unelected control of any resource is unacceptable. Neil
It would be another nonsense Tax, Royalty call it what you like which we don’t need. Les
Not if maori get any financial cut from it. Graeme
But rights to use water should be tradeable. Peter
Absolutely NOT Roger
Let us be sensible, no charge for water in any way or form.  Johan
It is a natural right for all users. Birds, animals, fish and people. John
But do not give it to Maori. The rain comes from the Heavens maybe pay a tax to God???? Ian
Water is the natural component to sustaining life and belongs to no one. If it runs short .. so be it, it will come back. God forbid maoris have any say in its control. Just ask yourself.. if your house is destroyed by severe flooding, are the nice maoris going to say .. sorry, it was our water that caused the problem so well pay to replace it with some of the fifty million we,ve screwed out of you over the last few years … yeah right! Its time all this bullshit is stopped. Des
Like air, no one owns it. Gary
They already pay Councils for water through rates. Frank
It’s argued for political purposes by the invincibly and economically ignorant. Bernard
The rule of law must prevail, nobody can own the water or air. Alan
Approval would be another Maori gravy-train. Bob
Winston Peters has this right – only on commercial bottlers who are exporting it directly overseas. It may seem minuscule amounts now but what happens in say the next forty years. Di
NO, NO, and NO!!! Laura
No, if it aint broke….why fix it?..or why even dream of another ‘tax’? Clark, for al her failings, was on to it. She knew the maoris were greedy beyond reason,maybe a bit slow to appreciate the insatiable greed of politicians unlike Ardern/Greens etc.? Ced
How can anyone charge for something they don’t own. Bryon
What’s next, the sky, from which the rain falls….the air we breath….. Lionel
Fillet steak is almost out of my reach now, added cost will make it a distant memory. John
Clarified my thinking after reading your report. Rex
Definitely NOT. This is Nationalization of a natural resource. It is spiteful in that it targets specific groups and will not achieve its objectives. I estimate that the tax in Canterbury alone will collect aprox $80million. This money will be stolen from the regional economies directly to Wellington. After bureaucracy has swallowed its share most of the rest will go to government coffers with a few crumbs back to the regions for environmental projects. This policy will cost all regional NZ dearly. It will be labor voters who loose jobs in service and manufacturing as this money will be taken out of circulation in the regional towns and cities. Willy
Should individual areas need finance to directly improve water ways then this should be administered by the respective council. A water charge to line the pockets of Gold Diggers on the Gravy Train is a definite NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS!!! Bruce 
How can you charge for something nobody owns. Dennis
This is the thin edge of the wedge designed to benefit a racial group with everyone else paying for it. Why are the public so disinterested? Roger
Water is free and belongs to all of us. However a surcharge for export drinking water is warranted. David
If it is for export. Garry
Many house holders do in fact pay for water used, charged separate from the charge for providing through pipes etc. A charge for water after an allotted amount being used say for irrigation would surely result in less waste and more thought about irrigation times and less pollution of our waterways. Margaret
Voters should tell candidates they must state their opposition if they want your vote. Peter
Provided it’s for the benefit of ALL NEW ZEALANDERS and NOT JUST MAORI. Obviously, this will not be sanctioned by Maori, so yet again they will be on the gravy train to the detriment of all Kiwis, SO WHATS NEW ?  Audrey
The moment you introduce the connivence of Maori into the debate it reveals how flawed the thinking of our politicians are and therefore we should not allow even the thinest part of any wedge to be introduced. Rob
No, No and NO again. We are being sold down the RIVER again by the half wits in parliament. Our swamp certainly needs a clean out!! Jim
If you profit from it’s use, you should pay for it. Most people pay water rates anyway but if you intend to place heavy demands on the water supply, tat will result in your making money, then of course there should be a cost to you., Andy
The water in NZ freely arrives as a natural occurrence. It should be free to all users at source with charges added for processing, if needed. John
Higher food and water prices will hurt the poorest families hardest, who will stand strong against the New gravy train. Paul
It is our free resource, should be available to all. Brian
Why on earth do they keep on meddling with things that are working well. No, I most definitely do not support a charge being imposed. Do I hear even more ‘Treaty settlements’ in there somewhere? Helen
The implications are clear it will lead to Iwi lining up to cruise on the gravy train some more and create greater inequality among NZ citizens. Stan
This has got to be stopped. Chris
A charge may be justifiable in those cases where publicly funded infrastructure is used to deliver the water; otherwise, water remains part of “the commons”, to which we’re all entitled., as of right. As to Maori expectations, this country urgently needs to return to sanity: scrap the Waitangi Tribunal (which serves only to whip up Maori avarice); remove all reference to the Treaty from legislation; declare unequivocally that water belongs to no-one, and cannot, per se, have a monetary value. Despite some vagueness in NZ First’s policy (which is there purely to attract Maori voters), that party offers us the best hope of avoiding this racially motivated mess. Graham
Why should they get it free ?? Kevin
We pay for our water in all the cities. John
There should not be any charge; it will not serve any purpose other than to fuel the gravy train of an elite few. Peter
Theft Cutty
It would be another trough for the Maori money grabbing machine if such a bill was passed. Bruce
Maoris have had far to much easy money Alan
KISS Let’s avoid all the fish hooks Doug
Water is a completely renewable and sustainable resource. To say that it’s use should be levied as are the extractive non renewable resources of oil, gas, gold, etc. is ridiculous. Any such levy would simply be a tax on production. Peter
Not if one race is going to have all the income, if it comes in then we should all get the benafit Richard
…..read the facts : 98% of New Zealand’s fresh H2O is never used… here we go again… the ‘money-printing …money grabbing ‘iwi’ arrogant elite’ want to control the world… National..Labour..Greens are all “traitors” giving in to a minority …a Divided Nation if I ever saw one… look forward to a future of pure Hell and High WATER…!!! ChrisH
A mind boggling minefield of injustice to do this – bringing in to effect a Maori ‘gravy train’  Hylton
Perhaps only on drinking water going to China and being taken out of the ground for free. Graeme
Ok, and if they eliminate the dole, and the maoris pay for their own health issues first before giving them any more revenue; this argument would be more useful than taxing those that pay the taxes. Roy
Not if it’s going to cause gravy trains to run again. It sounds logical that overseas companies should pay something for their bottled water, but if that means the rest of us pay more for everything, then it’s better to keep the status quo.  Hilary 
In the Bible Romans ch 1 is very telling – pl take the time to read this – among other matters of moral issues the apostle Paul discusses – worship the Creator – God – not the creation I wrote to our local MP – a farmer asking her to consider her position on voting for the RMA update etc re Maori water rights – sadly but not unexpectedly, she voted with the govt- and that tells where our parliament’s thinking is – most MPs it would appear agree with transferring water rights to Maori, certainly not to many publically are protesting from what one reads. In my view we are being led incrementally into a global governance system that is leaching away our property rights – water is one of the levers that is being used to achieve this. Most of us pay for water use thru rates and meters etc – there is infrastructure that needs to paid for etc – no problem here. However what comes from the sky or from springs, rivers etc belongs to all, period. Water charging sanctioned by govt is one vehicle that is being used by the Marxists in NZ is to slowly leach profits from business and hence weaken or destroy – always remember – the issue is never the issue with the Marxist – the end game is!!  Ross
It is just another means of tax and Theft. Colin
Not realistic to include ALL commercial users. Therebwill need to be a lot more consideration given to making any final decisions on who should pay. Neville 
I pump water from a bore and spray it over my horticulture for frost protection. This water lands back on the wet winter ground and soaks back in. Should I be taxed for the use of this water ? I am using it as a tool and just recycling it. I have a council consent to do so. John
God brings the rain and it’s for all! Caro
Only those who bottle water for export – this said one has first to establish whether water can in fact be “owned” by any entity. This is the nub of the problem – it is virtually impossible to define “ownership” of a a naturally occurring resource – who owns air, sunlight?? What the Labour policy opens the door for claims for “ownership” from interest groups, in ths case Maori, with a view to reaping royalty benefits. We collect our water from roofs, store it in expensive tanks for domestic use, reticulate it to the buildings on the property via a pump system, treat it through a small domestic treatment unit, and us it – are we going to have to pay a tax on what we use? – nonsense!! The “ownership” question is a a can of very divisive worms. Andrew
When are going to stop giving into all these claims, I thought we had FULL AND FINAL pay outs years ago, it just goes on and on. Murray
I feel very lucky to be the age I am (oldish). The Iwi avalanche that has been triggered in this country is now unstoppable except by an armed uprising and a period of dictatorship. Alan
Water must not be owned by any one. It is must be non commercial Pete
For something that falls freely out of the sky no way there should be any charge on water the only charge is to have the means to get to our homes. Russell
Not on all commercial users and NOT ever on private users. yet today Residential users are paying a high cost tariff whilst commercial users are paying a low cost tariff or none at all. Water is N OT a commercial commodity it is a “Commons” resource. No Landowner should be required to pay any tariff for water that Falls on his land, Travels through that land or travels over that land. WE ABSOLUTELY OBJECT too any tarrif being Paid to maori on an Apatheid basis. Richard
When will you NZers all wake up to greed: this is a natural resource, and for all. Rosemary
Instead of gray-training water, or anything else, the politicos should be working on leveling the playing field so that all New Zealanders actually get the ability to achieve their potential instead of the current situation where many are disadvantaged. Ian
I believe the charge should only be on those who are exporting our water for their own gain. Mary
Dangerous can of worms. And the line from “commercial use” to “anyone with a water tank” to “anyone with a puddle” is very short. Pavel
It opens a huge can of worms!!!! Tim
The costs of compliance is likely to outstrip the revenue. Tax commercial bottled drinking water only. Russell
The only costs commercial users should pay for are those relating to sanitising and reticulation of the water. If a particular company is dealing with the collection and sanitising using their own resources, then they should not be paying anything. If in time public demands fall below the level of water available then commercial users must face some restrictions on their draw. Michael
Only those bottling companies that export water should pay. Kim
Why do political parties continue to want to change policies that are working. Overall the system we have for fresh water is working well. There might be a few problems in a few catchments, but they need to sort those out locally. The hysteria over water bottlers is ridiculous. Everyone should be very wary of those people who are trying to manipulate the debate to bring in new taxes and new Treaty claims. Because that’s what this is all about. Tony
No, no, no – no new taxes, royalties, levies or any other charges they want to dream up! Leave things as they are. Karen
Labour’s policies are reckless – no detail, just a trust me and we won’t fleece you! The Greens are no better.  James
For goodness sake – where are the parties that stand for common sense and a system that has worked well. I thought Winston Peters would do that, but I was clearly wrong! Daniel
Absolutely no to any new taxes. End of story! Michael