A group formed in response to the possibility of fluoride returning to Timaru’s water supply staged a quirky protest in front of Timaru Hospital on Friday.
The Sweet Freedom Army, fronted by founder Rachel Tomkinson, who was dressed in a gold and purple lycra superhero outfit and carrying a New Zealand flag, took a list of questions about fluoridation to the South Canterbury District Health Board (SCDHB).
Their intention was to deliver them to SCDHB CEO Nigel Trainor in person, though this was not possible.
SCDHB communications manager Natasha Hoskins, who accepted the questions, said communication with the public was important but stressed it was a hospital and protesters could not block the entrance.
Tomkinson said the Sweet Freedom Army were looking for “simple answers to simple questions” regarding possible fluoridation of the water supply.
“We need a few superheroes to fight for democracy. We are the ratepayer, we pay for the water, so we have a right to know,” she said.
The group’s questions included where fluoride would be sourced from if it was returned to Timaru’s water supply, and whether what the group called a “byproduct of industrial fluoride” could “rob us of minerals such as magnesium”.
The group was formed in response to news that the Government wanted DHBs rather than local authorities to make decisions on which community water supplies would be fluoridated. A bill to that effect is expected to be introduced to Parliament later this year.
Responding to the group’s protest, Trainor said the decision to add fluoride to water supplies remained with local councils.
“Once drafted, interested parties, including communities and individuals, will be able to comment on the bill as it is considered by the health select committee. This is a real opportunity for the community to have its say.
“If passed, it is likely that legislation would come into force from mid-2018, but at this stage no decision has been made,” he said.