Chris Hipkins: 'Race card' from political parties killed Three Waters

Chris Hipkins insists political parties playing the "race card" is the reason the previous Government couldn't get Three Waters over the line. 

The Labour leader and former Prime Minister was asked about the Coalition Government's scrapping of his administration's controversial water reforms in favour of its own version

"It became divisive because some political parties chose to play the race card over water issues which actually that's not what this should be about," he told AM. 

"We've got water infrastructure in New Zealand that requires over $100 billion - potentially a magnitude more than that - of investment to get our basic water infrastructure functioning the way that it should."

This echoes comments from iwi leaders at the start of last year, where they claimed National and ACT - in Opposition at the time - were "fanning the flames of racism" with regards to Three Waters. 

"The challenge now is, if they move away from the model that we had designed with the 10 water entities and with the Māori advisory component built into it... they're still going to have to find a way of recognising the Māori interest in water which has been established by the courts," Hipkins continued. 

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and his Coalition would "still have to answer that challenge", Hipkins said. 

"I think, as many of the local mayors pointed out... it's now just going to take longer and cost more," the Labour leader said of the Government's new water reforms. 

"My challenge to the current Government would be; if the previous Government has started building a house and the new Government comes along and says, 'Nah, we don't like that house anymore - we're going to demolish it' - who wasted the money? The Government who started to build the house or the Government who decided they were going to scrap it?"