A medley of mayors upset at the Government's Three Waters reforms turned up at Parliament to voice their displeasure and meet with politicians.
"We don't all have green slime, and frogs coming out of our taps," Manawatū District Council Mayor Helen Worboys said today. "One size doesn't fit all."
"There's been virtually no acknowledgement from Government that not all councils need significant investment into their infrastructure," Worboys said.
The mayors and allies in the Communities 4 Local Democracy coalition said the Government tried ramming through water reforms against the wishes and interests of local communities.
Three Waters referred to drinking water, wastewater and stormwater networks.
The overhaul would create four publicly-owned water entities to take control of water infrastructure.
The Government has said these entities will work with councils and communities.
Dan Gordon, Waimakariri District Council Mayor, said many people accepted improvements were needed, but Three Waters was the wrong model.
"Our message to the Government is we'd like them to press the pause button on this reform programme and come back to the table and talk to us about viable alternatives."
Legislation was going to be introduced before Christmas but has been delayed.
"There has been some pause and that's welcome relief but we'd like there to be a longer pause," Gordon added.
"The entity-based model is not one that we feel is good for communities," he said.
"We would genuinely like to have a partnership with the Government to talk about alternatives."
The mayors outside Parliament said Communities 4 Local Democracy represented 24 councils and more than 1.4 million people.
Asked about Three Waters this afternoon, National Party leader Chris Luxon said: "The Government has misled the mayors."
And in the adjournment debate in the House, he called Three Waters an "asset grab".
National MP Simon Watts asked Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta if she only told councils in October that Cabinet had effectively decided to proceed with Three Waters back in June.
Mahuta rejected claims she withheld information from local authorities.
"Two decades of underinvestment in water infrastructure should be sufficiently of concern to members of the opposition who, when they were in Government, did nothing about it."
Mahuta said she was open to engaging on the issue though.
Earlier today, Andrew Little took a dig at the mayors.
He cited a Taranaki Daily News story about a mother and children forced to move into a motel to avoid raw sewage spilling across an Inglewood property.
"I look forward to meeting the 21 mayors coming to Parliament today to try to persuade us Three Waters reform is unnecessary," he said on Twitter.
Communities 4 Local Democracy said Three Waters would cause elected local authorities to lose control of about $60 billion of community-owned assets nationwide.
The coalition, also known as He hapori mō te Manapori, has won support from the Act party.
"Currently the system is not up to scratch, but the Government's proposed reforms simply miss the mark," Act local government spokesman Simon Court said.
Communities 4 Local Democracy said it included Central Hawkes Bay, Far North, Ōpōtiki, Whangārei and at least 15 other district councils.
It also said it had support from Christchurch and Napier city councils.
The coalition said Whangārei, Timaru and Waimakariri district councils filed a High Court application seeking clarification of what ownership means in relation to their ratepayer-funded water assets.
But Te Kura Taka Pini, the Ngāi Tahu freshwater group, said the coalition was a splinter group with some deluded messages.
The group's co-chair Dr Te Maire Tau said Ngāi Tahu worked closely with twenty-two mayors for months to progress a goal of equitable, sustainable and safe water services for everyone.
"These are challenges that affect us all, and we should be working together for solutions," Tau said.
"It is lacking good faith to see nine South Island councils splinter off to create a lobbying campaign to stall improvements to three waters services."
Tau said Communities 4 Local Democracy claimed to centre on property rights in assets, but was actually a veiled attempt to maintain the failed status quo.