Hundreds of Tai Tokerau's marae, country churches and halls face huge extra costs in New Zealand's biggest water sector reform, a Northland mayor warns.
Kaipara mayor Dr Jason Smith said the facilities faced huge costs amid a government push for reticulation, with chlorine and fluoride added to drinking water, part of review discussions.
"What will these small rural places have to do, suddenly face the huge costs of getting reticulated water to their marae or country hall?" Smith said.
Lifestyle blocks and country schools not on reticulated water supply would be similarly affected.
"Will every village hall, marae, papakainga housing area then have to be chlorinated and fluoridated? All Northlanders need to be extremely concerned," he said.
The Government recently announced New Zealand's biggest ever water sector shakeup with major reform of the way New Zealand's wastewater, stormwater and drinking water is managed. It wants to radically change the way the sector's set up with 67 providers nationally shrunk to just half a dozen entities.
Taumata Arowai, a new water services regulator, has been set up among the first reform steps. Major reform discussions with Northland councils and others around New Zealand are now underway.
Northland's reticulated water is provided almost solely by Far North, Kaipara and Whangārei District councils.
A super-sized management entity combining the water sector of Northland's three district councils with Auckland Council, which runs its water sector through giant council controlled organisation (CCO) Watercare - is increasingly expected for the top of the North Island.
Auckland has 1.57 million people, Northland 180,000.
"How can the needs of 180,000 people in Northland be heard amid a population of 1.75 million?" Smith said.
Mooted sector review options also include an even bigger single top-of-the-north entity adding Waikato and Bay of Plenty to the northern blend which would amalgamate at least a dozen councils' water sector infrastructure and provision.
Smith said Northlanders would lose control of their right to participate locally with giant 'super-regional' water entities.
"Under these super-regional entities water management will not be locally run," Smith said.
"Local people won't have any way of having their voice heard.
"Their local needs would get lost in a super-regional water body that included Auckland.
"The needs of that city's 1.75 million people would come first."
Northland was particularly at risk because it was distant from much of the more centralised decision making that would result, he said.
"Local voices will just disappear as localism is diminished. Northland will be off the table for discussion, it will become no more than a rounding error,'' Smith said.
"People live locally, they don't live regionally. If we turn around and do a super-regional level water management body, places like Mitimiti and Pouto will disappear.
"There will be a blanket general approach that doesn't have local sensitivity, understanding, identity and values.''