Auckland’s water supply will continue to be fluoridated, the Auckland Regional Council decided at a works committee meeting yesterday.
The decision to continue with fluoridation was taken after the meeting was disrupted by an unsuccessful attempt from a Browns Bay woman, Patricia Cheel, to present an anti-fluoridation petition.
The chairman of the committee, Mr Gary Taylor, ruled her out of order and adjourned the meeting for 40 minutes so the police could be called to maintain order.
A policeman stayed outside the meeting for the duration of the debate on fluoridation. He was not required when Patricia Cheel and a small band of supporters remained quiet.
The ARC had sought the views of its six local authority water supply customers to review fluoridation of its water supply.
North Shore and Auckland cities voted for a continuation of fluoridation, while Waitakere and Manukau City voted against it.
The Papakura District Council voted for the status quo to leave some areas fluoridated and others unfluoridated. The Rodney District Council also voted for the status quo, and its 42 ratepayers receiving water from the ARC will stay on an unfluoridated supply.
The most vociferous opponent of fluoridation at the meeting was the councillor for Manurewa, Mr Chris Mountfort.
“The whole philosophy of mass manipulative medication is completely wrong,” Mr. Mountfort aid.
“I do not believe the ARC has the statutory power to put medicine in water. There should be a commission of inquiry to determine if the ARC has the statutory power.”
Another member, Mr John Pettit, said the question of fluoridation should be left to the consumers.
“If people out there don’t want fluoridation we don’t give it to them,: Mr Pettit said.
However, an amendment, put by Mr Pettit and calling for customers to choose fluoridation or not, was lost.
Mr Taylor said it would be a “cop-out” if the council was seen not to be making a decision about fluoridation.
“I have some personal sympathy for the arguments Mr Mountfort has put forward. This is not any easy black and white issue,” Mr Taylor said.
“I am persuaded there is a beneficial impact in adding fluoride to the water,” he said.
The council kept its options open to reconsider its policy by voting to review fluoridation of the water supply if new scientific evidence came forward contrary to its own evidence.
Outside the meeting, Patricia Cheel said she would continue collecting signatures to add to the 19,000 already on her petition.
Fluoridation – history:
1892: Fluoride recognised as reducing dental decay.
1953: The United States approves fluoridation as a public health measure.
1953: Hastings becomes the first New Zealand city to introduce fluoridation.
1951-1954: Auckland City Council considers fluoridation but the matter is unresolved.
1966: Auckland Regional Authority begins fluoridation of the bulk water supply.
1979: Waitemata City Council stops fluoride being added to a new water supply for Huia Village.
1984: ARA asks customer councils for their views and continues with fluoridation after most vote for the status quo.
1989: Six nw customer councils polled by the new Auckland Regional Council.
1989 to May 1990: Councils divided on fluoridation.
May 30, 1990: ARC works committee votes to stay with fluoridation.