National | Education

Call for Education Minister to back water-only schools

The New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) and Hāpai Te Hauora want Education Minister Nikki Kaye to back "water-only" schools.

In a move to steer schools away from the fizz, the Ministry of Health (MoH) joined the Ministry of Education in March 2016 in encouraging schools to consider adopting healthy drink policies.

At the time, the MoH said it supported a simple schools drinks policy of water and plain reduced fat milk.  "Sugary drinks can cause tooth decay and contribute to childhood obesity," said Pat Tuohy, Child and Youth Health Chief Advisor.

Hāpai Te Hauora too has stood against sugary drinks in schools for some years now, and is endorsing a consensus statement led by NZDA.

Today Hāpai Te Hauora Lance Norman CEO says, “This is an issue that Hāpai has advocated for within our communities for years.  Given their high Māori and Pacific roll, we’re especially pleased to see a school like Kelston Boys High leading the way.  We hope the Minister takes note and demonstrates leadership in supporting water only schools.”

Auckland’s Kelston Boys High School has raised funds with a 3.1km "Walk for Water" highlighting the benefits of going water-only.  The funds will go towards a new water fountain and water bottles for students.

NZDA spokesperson Dr Rob Beaglehole says, "We’re calling on the Minister to make water-only a requirement for all schools.  Kelston Boys is a great example here, but the Minister could step up and have an impact on the health of all students."

NZDA dentists have been supporting schools to become water-only since last June.

Hāpai Te Hauora and 12 other public health groups are backing a NZDA-led Consensus Statement on Sugary Drinks which they released in 2016.

According to reports, Oranga School in Auckland's One Tree Hill area is the first water-only school in the country.