Flaxmere residents turned out for the final fluoridation public meetings last night to hear the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board and Fluoride Free Hastings last word ahead of next month’s referendum.
The double header was held at Age Concern in Flaxmere and was attended by 34 people.
DHB director of population health Dr Caroline McElnay continued the DHB theme of the choice that lay with the community on whether they wanted fluoridation in the Hastings water supply.
“It is a personal choice, and it is a choice as to whether someone’s personal choice outweighs removing the benefits for the community and the loss of public good and oral health.”
Former Flaxmere resident, and mother of four, Rodina Duncan said she hoped more time would have been spent at the meetings on how fluoridation affects the local Maori population.
“Wouldn’t it be better to be completely GST-free on fruit and veges and tax the crap out of the fizzy drinks.” She argued that it was becoming increasingly hard for parents to get their kids to dental therapists that used to be readily available at public schools.
Fluoride Free Hastings spokeswoman Angela Hair said she had been conducting her own test of the Hastings water supply and was concerned about the variable levels of fluoride that she had found.
DHB CEO Dr Kevin Snee said having come from the UK he was “very impressed with the funding and resources that have gone into dental health care in Hastings”.
The DHB said it costs $65,000 a year to fluoridate the Hastings water supply, at an average of $1 per person.
One resident said: “Surely this [fluoridation] is not all that we are doing for our children’s teeth? What else are we spending money on?”
Hawke’s Bay District Health Board director of oral health Dr Robin Whyman responded by saying the DHB also targets children at high risk of tooth decay with a number of dental programmes and toothbrush initiatives.
Tonight a discussion meeting will be held at the Hastings District Council Chambers from 7pm to 8.30pm which has been been organised by the Hastings District Council.
The meeting will be adjudicated by Napier lawyer Jonathan Krebs.
In October, as part of the local body elections, voters in Havelock North, Hastings and Flaxmere will be asked to decide if fluoride will continue to be added to the Hastings water supply.