Kieran McAnulty defends not ditching Three Waters earlier, says 'that'd be dumping our duty'

Local Government Minister Kieran McAnulty is defending not dumping the proposed Three Water reforms earlier, saying change is necessary.

It became goodbye Three Waters and hello to "affordable water reforms" on Thursday after the Government announced a rebrand of the concept - creating 10 new public water entities instead of four as well as keeping the co-governance aspect.

Under this proposal, households could save up to almost $5500 a year, the Government has said.

While the original Three Waters plan wasn't popular, McAnulty said simply ditching it would be "dumping our duty".

He told AM co-host Amanda Gillies reforming New Zealand's water services was necessary.

"The Local Government sector themselves say that it has to happen and if we have the data that's been peer-reviewed twice and verified… that shows us that it has to be done - we've still got to crack on with this," he said. 

"What I wanted to do when I was asked by the Prime Minister to reset this was [to] find that balance. We knew that Local Government was concerned about the loss of local voice [and] we knew we couldn't go too far to… 'keep local, direct control' because then we couldn't get the savings that we need to."

He said if nothing was done, ratepayer money wouldn't be saved.

"There's not a single ratepayer in the country that will pay more long-term as a result of these reforms."

One of the most controversial aspects of the initial Three Waters reforms was co-governance, an element of which has been kept for the revamp.

Asked why co-governance was kept, McAnulty said there were multiple reasons.

"Māori have a special interest in water and that's been established by the courts - I wasn't prepared to put anything up that would be counter to that.

"At the end of the day, I was confident that if we actually explain what it is we're proposing - accepting that our explanation previously wasn't effective and that people found out that it wasn't actually governance, that it was very similar to what's happening in the Local Government sector on a day-to-day basis - then, really, New Zealanders would be comfortable with it."

Watch the full video for more.