Three Waters



Iwi will have a greater role in the new three waters system, including pathways for enhanced participation by whānau and hapū as these services relate to their Treaty rights and interests.

Iwi/Māori groups will have a greater role in the new three waters system. Mana whenua bring an important perspective as kaitiaki (guardians) of Te Mana o te Wai, which will be at the heart of the new system. This includes:

  • Statutory recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi:

Rights and interests of iwi/Māori will be recognised and provided for in service-delivery arrangements for the new Three Waters system and will uphold existing Treaty Settlement arrangements.

  • Statutory recognition of Te Mana o Te Wai:

Te Mana o Te Wai will be recognised and provided for in service-delivery arrangements for the new Three Waters system. Each entity will be required to give effect to Te Mana o Te Wai both in legislation and as articulated by mana whenua over a defined water body.

  • Mana whenua represented on Regional Representative Groups (RRGs):

Mana whenua will have equal representation on the RRGs alongside councils in each entity area. RRGs will provide regional and local level direction and oversight, including setting strategic and performance expectations, approving strategic direction and the appointment of merit-based boards.

  • Merit-based boards:

There are no co-governance requirements for the boards of the new Water Services Entities, however it is expected that one or more members of each entity board will have experience in the exercise of kaitiakitanga, tīkanga and mātauranga Māori relating to delivering water services.

  • Support for capability and capacity:

Mana whenua will have an increasing role in both submitting and providing advice to the new entities and entities will fund and support capability and capacity for mana whenua to participate.

We are working closely with iwi groups throughout the country and will continue to engage with them directly during the transition process.


He Pūkenga Wai Fund has been established to support mana whenua participation in the Three Waters Programme.

The Government has committed to significantly improving the safety, quality, resilience, accessibility, and performance of three waters services in a way that is efficient and affordable for New Zealanders.

Four new publicly-owned Water Services Entities will take on responsibility for the operation of the country’s three waters infrastructure, which are currently managed by 67 councils. Through this reform mana whenua will have joint oversight with councils for each of the four entities alongside other roles that are anticipated (e.g. Te Mana o te Wai).

The Government is providing funding to support iwi to support the following outcomes:

  • Iwi are engaged in the reform programme and understands the range of opportunities available in the new system.
  • Collaboration and connection across mana whenua within specific entity boundaries are strengthened; and
  • Capability and capacity plan for iwi to contribute to the new system is enhanced.

It is expected that the new Water Services Entities will be established by 1 July 2024.

Funding for individual iwi organisations to wānanga within their own whānau and hapū will be available for up to $18,000 per annum through He Pūkenga Wai Fund. This is the first funding that will be made directly to iwi, further support will be made as the reform progresses.

Applications for this funding are now open.

Who will be eligible for funding

Post-Settlement Governance Entities: the representative organisation established after a Treaty settlement with the Crown that has the purpose of representing the iwi members and managing any assets resulting from the settlement.

Mandated iwi organisations: organisations with mandate recognised by the Crown for Treaty of Waitangi settlement negotiations.

Iwi authorities: the authority which represents an iwi for the purposes of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and which is recognised by that iwi as having authority to do so.

To view a list of identified eligible entities, follow the link below:

Identified eligible entities

If you think your organisation should be eligible, but it is not listed, then please email and the team will get in touch.

What work will be able to be funded

General engagement on the Three Waters reform programme, including broadly:

  • Within iwi.
  • Between iwi and iwi organisations.
  • Within a region.
  • Within Aotearoa.
  • With Local Government.

Establishing representative arrangements for the new Water Services Entities, including:

  • Representative approaches such as election costs.
  • Costs of supporting and setting up a representative.
  • Planning, advice and research associated with establishing the new Water Services Entities, including:
  • Project planning and management costs.
  • Gathering and preparing supporting information.
  • Research.
  • Legal advice.

Funding requests must align with He Pūkenga Wai funding outcomes:

  • Mana whenua engaging in the opportunities available in the new system.
  • Strengthening collaboration and connection across mana whenua within specific boundaries.
  • Enhancing capability and capacity of iwi to contribute to the new three waters system.
What you will need to apply

Applications will require organisations to be registered in the Hāpai Hapori system. If you register any time prior to making your application, then the application process will be simpler.

To register your organisation, phone 0800 556 253 or email and a Hāpai Hapori advisor will support you through the process.

To apply, you will need:

  • A short outline of the activities you intend to undertake.
  • An application letter or email signed by an individual with proper authority to commit the iwi organisation to the representation process. This is most likely a Chair or a Chief Executive Officer (or General Manager) of the iwi organisation, however, it may be an officer of the iwi organisation in some circumstances.

Once you are registered, you can apply to He Pūkenga Wai Fund online through the online grants management system.

Additional funding for iwi collectives

Further to the He Pūkenga Wai Fund, additional funding will be available to iwi collectives within each of the entity boundaries. This funding is to support those iwis within each of the four entities to get together and determine what regional representation will look like in the new system.

Details about this further funding will be released soon. For further information on this, please email