No more fluoride in Whakatane water
The Whakatane District Council has voted to scrap fluoride from the town's water supply. But even Mayor Tony Bonne, who voted to ditch the fluoride, says it's a decision local councils shouldn't have to be making.
The days of children drinking fluoridated water in Whakatane are numbered.
"We got expert advice both from the pro-fluoride and the fluoride-free New Zealand. We took all that advice in and we made the decision," says Whakatane District Mayor Tony Bonne.
That's despite a public referendum in 2013 that voted in favour of keeping fluoride in the water. Mr Bonne says the money saved on fluoridating will be put into community dental schemes.
Reaction to the decision in Whakatane is mixed, but president of Local Government New Zealand Lawrence Yule says the fluoride debate shouldn't be left in the hands of local councils.
"We have very little knowledge and understanding on the health impacts of fluoride and whether it's a good or bad thing, and yet we get drawn into all these political fights," he says.
And even though he voted to scrap Whakatane's fluoride, Mr Bonne agrees the decision shouldn't have been in his council's hands.
"Central government or the Department of Health needs to take that responsibility," says Mr Bonne.
Mr Bonne says the fluoride will be phased out in the coming months.