Regional | Whakatāne

Should Whakatāne and Ōhope's drinking water have fluoride added?

In the Bay of Plenty, the fluoridation referendum for the Whakatāne and Ōhope area will come up for debate next week.

Joe Harawira, a spokesman for Sawmill Workers Against Poisons (SWAP), says more research is needed before such an option is considered.

However, the Bay of Plenty DHB supports the plan, saying it has more positives than negatives.

The option to add fluoride to the drinking water in places like Whakatāne and Ōhope has some locals gritting their teeth.

The roll out of the fluoridation project has the backing of the BoP DHB, and a local oral health expert says it will help close the gap between the oral health statistics for Māori and non-Māori.

Water fluoridation has already been implemented in other parts of NZ, but next week's referendum will push for fluoridation in areas including Täneatua, Waimana and Murupara.

There are 27 countries who add fluoride to their drinking water, but views are mixed in NZ over whether that is indeed the best way of improving the oral health of young and old alike.