Taumata Arowai is the dedicated water services regulator for Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Taumata Arowai will operate from a te ao Māori perspective aspiring to higher outcomes for wai and tangata in Aotearoa.  We will work in partnership across Aotearoa, taking our lead from Te Tiriti o Waitangi, to regulate and influence the water services sector to improve outcomes and reflect on the importance and interconnectivity of the health of tangata and of wai.

Where we have come from

The establishment of Taumata Arowai is one of three pou, pillars, of the Government’s 2020 Three Waters Reform programme (the other pou are regulatory and service delivery reform). A dedicated water services regulator will be essential to provide safe and reliable drinking water and improved delivery of waste and storm water.

Taumata Arowai is born out of Te Mana o te Wai – working in service of and framed by it as the korowai for structural and system reform.

The establishment of an independent water regulator was also born out of historical incidents like that of Havelock North and others. As a consequence we have the enactment of Taumata Arowai – the Water Services Regulator Act 2020 and the need for regulatory oversight to lift the performance of the system that delivers for three waters.

Taumata Arowai

The Taumata Arowai – Water Services Regulator Act, passed in July 2020, established Taumata Arowai as a Crown entity. Upon enactment of the Water Services Act 2021 Taumata Arowai became fully operational on 15 November 2021.

As well as an independent board, chaired by Dame Karen Poutasi, Taumata Arowai is advised on Māori rights and interests by a rōpū, which will work alongside iwi and Māori as the Crown’s Te Tiriti o Waitangi partner  

The rōpū will also inform the Taumata Arowai kaupapa on tikanga me mātauranga Māori, kaitiakitanga and Te Mana o te Wai. 

Te Mana o te Wai

We are committed to resetting and improving relationships with Treaty partners and will design, build and act from a te ao Māori world view guided by the principles of Te Mana o te Wai.

Te Mana o te Wai is a universal concept for all Aotearoa New Zealanders. It refers to the fundamental importance of water and recognises that protecting the health of freshwater protects the health and wellbeing of the wider environment. It protects the mauri of the wai. Te Mana o te Wai is about restoring and preserving the balance between the wai, the wider environment and the community.

Our place in the landscape

Taumata Arowai recognises that it cannot and does not work alone when it comes to wai. Taumata Arowai must always work in partnership, taking its lead from Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

We will work collaboratively across Aotearoa including with whānau, hapū and iwi Māori, Crown entities (such as the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry of Health and Department of Internal Affairs), public health units (PHUs) along with regional, city and district councils, drinking water suppliers, water management companies and all people of Aotearoa.

Together, we will work with, regulate and influence the water services sector to help improve outcomes for public health (access to safe drinking water), the environment (land, rivers and coasts) and for the three waters (drinking water, wastewater and stormwater).

Diagram of the water system of Aotearoa
Where we and other organisations sit in the water system of Aotearoa.