NAPIER’S water supply — described yesterday as the best in New Zealand — is to stay unfluoridated.

The city council’s policy and regulatory committee considered fluoridation yesterday in response to a letter from Health Minister Annette King.

Mrs King wrote that the lack of added fluoride in Napier, Taradale and Bayview was “causing significant detrimental effects to the health of the people of your area”.

Fluoridation had been shown to be a cost-effective means of reducing tooth decay, she said.

But the committee considered evidence on the matter and voted unanimously not to change the situation, whereby Napier water is neither fluoridated nor chlorinated.

Councillors said fluoridation could double the cost of the water supply and there were other ways for people to increase their intake of fluoride.

Councillor Denyse Watkins said fluoridation could be a health risk in itself, for example for people with kidney problems needing dialysis.

She echoed Councillor Harry Lawson’s claim that Napier’s water was the best in New Zealand, and suggested that the council could bottle and sell it. “We’re sitting on a goldmine,” she said.

The committee received a report from the Maori consultative committee saying that the tangata whenua did not support fluoridation, and that water had spiritual significance for Maoris.

Both committees agreed that the status quo should be maintained till such time as the council and the community were convinced that the advantages of fluoridation outweighed the disadvantages.