National | Drink

Karitane marae calling on whānau to remain calm amidst lead contamination

Puketeraki Marae is calling on locals to seek correct information as concern and uncertainty rises due to the lead contamination scare in local tap water.

The chair of Puketeraki Marae in Karitane, Matapura Ellison, says locals are sharing their blood test results on Facebook and discussing the implications there," which isn’t the most reliable source of information."

Ellison says some whānau are sharing information online indicating that lead (or other soluble heavy metals) in your water can be considered somewhat normal.

"Some whānau members are really upset," he says.

Despite a scare last week following reports that lead had shown up in blood tests of some local children, the Otago Daily Times reported today that results from 65 water samples taken from the network servicing Waikouaiti, Karitane and Hawksbury Village have come back below detectable levels.

However, the Dunedin City Council is still advising more than 1500 residents in Waikouaiti, Karitane and Hawksbury Village to not use tap water for drinking or preparing food.

The council has provided water tanks and tankers at nine locations, including Puketeraki Marae, to provide suitable drinking water to locals.

The contamination was announced on Tuesday, February 2, when the Dunedin City Council issued a notice declaring the water reservoir that supplies drinking water to the townships of Karitane and Waikouaiti was contaminated with lead.

The contamination notice was sent to the council on December 18 last year but was not picked up until January 7 this year.

Ellison says the message to whanau is to seek information from trusted sources such as the Ministry of Health, Public Health South, or the Dunedin City Council website.

Water tank locations


  • Golden Fleece Hotel, Kildare St entrance
  • 165 Beach Street, corner Beach/Stewart Streets
  • Waikouaiti School, 6 Malloch St
  • East Otago Events Centre, 203 Main Road
  • Waikouaiti Golf Club, 210 Edinburgh Street


  • Community Hall, 1381 Coast Road
  • Reserve/playground, 1 Old Head Street
  • Puketeraki Marae, 520 Apes Rd

Hawksbury Village

  • Duncan Avenue, near cheese factory

The council says investigations into the source of the contamination continue.

A detailed update on the situation is expected to be delivered at a public meeting at the East Otago Events Centre in Waikouaiti at 7pm on March 5.