Third death linked to Havelock North gastro outbreak

Water pipe (file)
Water pipe (file)

Health authorities have now linked a third death to the Havelock North gastro outbreak that made more than five thousand people sick.

It was revealed in the first public hearing of a Government Inquiry into the contamination of the town's water supply.

Two months after more than a third of the town's population fell ill, residents still don't trust the water.

"We definitely still boil it, if not we buy packets of water from the supermarket," says one concerned resident.

"Nah, we won't drink water out of the tap, no way."

And they still don't know what happened.

Providing the answers is the task of the Government Inquiry, headed by retired Court of Appeal Judge, Lyn Stevens QC.

One of the main things discussed at today's hearing was whether to conduct the inquiry in two stages.

The first would look at the cause of the contamination, whether anyone's at fault and how relevant agencies responded to the outbreak.

The second would look at systemic matters and possible changes needed for the future  changes that could affect the whole country.

More information on the outbreak was also revealed today.

Two deaths linked to the outbreak had already been reported - and the contamination has now been linked to a third death.

Three people have contracted a serious neurological illness and many have arthritis, another complication of the illness.

Barry Erickson is one of them. He says it's a relief this inquiry's finally underway - and it's due to report back in March next year.