Devastated, dismayed, outraged, appalled, saddened, frustrated, blindsided.
The trickling anger of Hawke's Bay's leaders turned into a torrent of adjectives on Wednesday as they heard their water assets were being taken off them.
Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced the Government would push ahead with its centralisation plan for Three Waters, which will see billions of dollars worth of council-owned drinking, waste and stormwater infrastructure and services assets managed by four regional bodies.
Hawke's Bay would fall under a regional entity comprising 21 councils from the East Coast of the North Island to the top of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, with the entities operational by July 1, 2024.
Councils had previously been promised the right to opt out of the reforms. Instead, there will be no right to opt out.
Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said she was "absolutely devastated" and "dismayed" that the Government hadn't listened.
She said her community was "upset and angry".
The Havelock North campylobacter crisis in 2016, where poor management of drinking water made thousands of residents ill and led to several deaths, was a catalyst for the reforms being announced last year.
Hazlehurst said since 2016 the region had been leading the Three Waters space and had proposed a regional solution that would create an "affordable and sustainable" delivery system.
"We have very big concerns about [the Government's] model and our community are demanding the chance to have their say about their Three Waters assets, which they have invested many millions of dollars on."
Napier mayor Kirsten Wise was likewise disappointed and said local councils had been "blindsided" by the decision.
"Having that option taken away from us and our community, considering the concerns we had, is pretty scary."
The city faces its own Three Waters challenges, including half of residents wanting to move away from chlorinated drinking, a path for which seemed unlikely or uncertain under the Government's Three Waters model, Wise said.
She said the community would likely be "outraged", especially as the Government had not provided an opportunity for consultation.
Taking away their voice and decision-making ability hadn't allayed community concerns about it being an "asset grab", she said.
Napier council was looking at holding a referendum of its own and Wise hoped to meet with the region's other mayors to discuss a path forward.
Concerns about affordability of the scheme, local employment opportunities and regional representation, particularly of mana whenua, are among the chief concerns which Hawke's Bay mayors and leaders had raised with the Government during its consultation period.
Central Hawke's Bay mayor Alex Walker said she was appalled, saddened and frustrated.
"The Government's reform to the structure and delivery of Three-Waters services is incredibly important to our community. I'm extremely disappointed that there will be no avenue for locally-based decision-making during this proposal of huge and complex change to our assets and services."
Craig Little, Mayor of Wairoa, said he was horrified at Government's disinterest in listening to local communities.
"The people of Wairoa have made it very clear to us they do not want to see control of their three waters services disappearing off to some far-flung faceless organisation, in which they have no voice," he said.
"Government went into this process giving Councils the option to opt out of reforms. Yet that option is clearly now off the table, and they intend ramming through the changes regardless of what our communities want, which is preposterous and, frankly misleading.
"What's more, there are so many unanswered questions from today's announcement. I really worry there will be a whole series of legacy issues this creates for future generations, and that just isn't good enough."
Minister Mahuta said the reforms had been "long signalled" and were necessary, with estimates that $185 billion was needed to fix, upgrade and maintain the country's water services over the next 30 years.
In Hawke's Bay, Government modelling predicts that by 2051 without reform, the average yearly cost per household to deliver these services will range from more than $8,690 in Wairoa and $7,620 in Central Hawke's Bay, to $4,530 in Hastings and $2,540 in Napier.
This compared to estimated yearly costs of $1,260 across Entity C areas by 2051.
She said the entities would remain in public ownership and the Government would continue to work with councils, with work currently underway to establish a working group of local government, iwi and water industry experts to work through the designs.
The Water Services Entities Bill will be introduced at the end of this year, and be passed next year, an implementation bill will be introduced next year, and an economic regulation bill will be introduced in early 2023.
Councils will have an ownership stake in the new water entities, although just how this will work is unclear.
The newly established regulator – Taumata Arowai – will enforce existing water standards.
An economic regulator will also be created to ensure investment goes ahead and monitor consumer charges and services.