Father whose daughter died from fentanyl calls for crackdown on suppliers after drug sold in New Zealand

A Kiwi dad who lost his daughter to the opioid fentanyl says we need to crack down on the suppliers who brought the deadly drug to Aotearoa.

Seven people are in hospital in Warairapa, and one in Wellington after consuming the drug. 

And the Drug Foundation says there's a shortage of naloxone - which reverses the effects of fentanyl.

Carolina Lewis lived her life to the fullest, the keen tennis player got a scholarship to study in the United States. But her father David Lewis told Newshub her life was cut short. 

"Carolina was just 23 years old, she had just graduated from her university in America and we lost her nearly three years ago. And after we got all the information she'd passed away from fentanyl."

Fentanyl is an opioid - it's fifty times more lethal than heroin. The drug kills up to 100,000 people in the US every year, but Caroline's dad won't say they died from an overdose.

"This is not overdosing, this is being poisoned. It's manslaughter."

The poison has now reached Aotearoa, with the country's first major discovery of powdered fentanyl.

Last night Newshub revealed that 12 people needed urgent medical care after consuming the substance, which was sold as meth and cocaine. 

Masterton's Mayor Lyn Patterson said the Wairarapa shouldn't be the only region concerned.

"Really really concerning, not only for our region, Wairarapa but also New Zealand."

Residents in the Wairarapa echoed their mayor's concern. 

"It's a very big worry for our young citizens," one said.

"It's absolutely concerning," another said.

"A bit crazy that such a yucky drug can go around so fast," added another. 

Some of those hospitalised were unconscious and in a critical condition.

And the New Zealand Drug Foundation director Sarah Helm said the drug naloxone is what saved them. 

"We're very lucky there have been no fatalities, I would call it a miracle in fact."

Naloxone reverses the effects of an opioid overdose but some emergency healthcare providers have access to a version only they can provide. 

And the spray version - which is able to be used by anyone - is $90 a pop, and there's a limited supply. 

The Drug Foundation had to fundraise for its stock and half of it has been sent to Wairarapa.

"In terms of being able to give it out to the people that really need it… this is what we need and we have barely any of it in the country."

"The advice we've had is there is no concern about the supply of that and the availability of that," said Deputy Prime Minister Grant Roberston. 

Police have launched an urgent investigation to locate the fentanyl suppliers, and believe the version circulating Wairarapa was imported from overseas.

They warn the opioid is extremely dangerous, even in small doses and is hard to distinguish from cocaine.