Director General of Health confirms fluoridation for Ōamaru

Published on 11 June 2024


At the 23 April 2024 meeting of the Waitaki District Council, Council resolved to instruct the Chief Executive to request an extension of time from the Department of Health to the deadline for adding fluoride to the Ōamaru water supply. 

In his letter to the Director General of Health, the Chief Executive outlined the Council’s concerns with the legal position around the decision of the Director General together with strong concerns from sections of the community. 

Council also agreed to advocate to Parliament that under the principles of localism, local communities be given the right to choose whether fluoride is added to their water.

The Mayor, in his letter to the Minister for Health, requested a reconsideration and also noted that as the decision-maker about fluoridation, the Ministry of Health should also be responsible for ensuring information about fluoridation is provided to the communities, rather than councils who have not made the decision.

Waitaki District Council received a response from Dr Diana Sarfati, Director-General of Health last week. In it she cited the High Court relief decision of 16 February 2024, and a subsequent decision on 24 May 2024, as legal basis for not granting extensions for the fluoridation directive.

The Director-General of Health also noted that the 2021 amendment to add Part 5A to the Health Act 1956 empowers her role with directing councils to fluoridate, and that councils must comply. 

The High Court decision on 24 May 2024 confirmed current directions are valid, and that councils have a statutory duty of mandatory compliance. Contravening a direction is an offence, with provisions for potentially significant penalties.

Council is now working towards complying with their statutory duty by 30 June 2024, as directed.


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