Fluoridation: Whakatane District Council makes the Hamilton mistake


Here we go again.

The Whakatane District Council has ignored the results of their own referendum and decided to stop community water fluoridation (CWF). (see Council votes to stop fluoridationand Whakatane mayor stands by fluoride decision).  This mirrors almost exactly the behaviour of the Hamilton City Council three years ago.

But are the Whakatane councillors (or, at least, the 6 who voted to stop CWF) so short of memory that they did not learn from the Hamilton experience? There the decision resulted in protests and petitions, eventually forcing the council to hold yet another referendum at the end of 2013. That showed, once again, clear support (about 70%) for CWF and the council later reversed their decision.

A thoroughly bad experience for that council and a humiliating one for the city. We had the picture of council politicians pretending to know better than the health and scientific experts and attempting to impose their own ideologically motivated position on the voters. It got so silly the council even issued their own leaflet providing oral health advice – advice which was out of step with that issued by health authorities!

Councils ignore voters wishes at their own peril. The Whakatane District Council anti-fluoridationist Mayor, Tony Bonne, justified his move by referring to the low voter turnout in the referendum. Are we to take it that if he loses the next election he will ignore that result and refuse to step down because of the low voter turnout?

Referendum results

The 2013 referendum in the Whakatane District showed that 60.5 per cent of those who voted were in favour of fluoridation, with 39.5 per cent against. However, in the only areas currently fluoridated – Whakatane City and Ohope – support for CWF was even greater – 65.8 per cent and 70.5 per cent respectively. The council is surely silly to ignore that vote without a good reason.

“We listened to the experts.”

Mayor Bonne declared “we listened to the experts” before making the decision. But who the hell were these experts?:

Supporting CWF –  Dr Neil de Wet of Toi Te Ora Public Health and local dental practitioner John Twaddle. OK, these people seem to have some qualifications to be described as “expert.”

Opposing CWF – Mary Byrne and Jon Burness of Fluoride-Free New Zealand. What expertise do these people have? – why should their word be accepted?

Well, they are both activists, belonging to the local activist group which is a chapter of the US Fluoride Action Network. That body is financed by the “natural”/alternative health industry – particularly by the Mercola on-line business.  (Local anti-fluoride actions, such as those in the High Court, have similarly been financed by the NZ health Trust – the lobby group for the local “natural”/alternative health industry. See Who is funding anti-fluoridation High Court action? and Corporate backers of anti-fluoride movement lose in NZ High Court).

Mary has no expertise I know of except her activism. Jon is an alternative health practitioner and business person. He specialises in kinesiology and is a member of the  Society of Natural Therapists and Researchers, NZ. As part of his business he runs the Whakatane Natural Health Centre.

Whakatane Natural Health Centre …… bringing together a comprehensive range of therapies for mind, body and soul. Kinesiology, Massage Therapy, Bowen Tech, Hypnotherapy, Lymphatic Drainage, Herb and Allergies, Acupuncture. – See more at:

OK, everyone has to make a living and I do not want to question the sincerity of either Mary or Jon.

But experts!! Tony Bonne is disingenuous to use that word. He should be representing his voters, not the alternative woo merchants, whatever his own personal ideological beliefs. It is a sad day when we elect councillors (or at least the six who voted for Bonne’s resolution) who cannot differentiate between acceptable scientific and health experts  on the one hand and ideologically driven activists and alternative “practitioners” using very questionable techniques on a gullible public on the other.

Councils not appropriate for fluoridation decisions

Mayor Bonne did, however, make sense with his statement that it should not be left to local bodies to make public health decisions and he would welcome stronger direction from central government. In that he actually agrees with Daniel Ryan, President of the Making sense of Fluoride group who said:

“There is just no excuse any more for John Key’s government to keep making councils juggle the expensive and diversionary hot potato. They want councils to focus on core business and be fiscally responsible – and they say they care about children’s health. With one simple measure on fluoridation they could have a really meaningful impact on all of that.”

The ball is in the government’s court on this issue – and has been for several years since local bodies formally asked central government and the Ministry of Health to take responsibility for decisions on CWF. There is really no excuse to leave this with councils whose decisions are so easily clouded by ideology and personal ambitions that they, or at least some of the council members, will happily ignore the advice of the real science and health experts and the wishes of their voters.

See also: Government considers fluoridation law change

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30 responses to “Fluoridation: Whakatane District Council makes the Hamilton mistake

  1. Stuart Mathieson

    Any scope for a judicial review?


  2. The council is split down the middle and some councillors are very upset – I understand. It is likely some sort of action will be taken within the council – similar to what happened in Hamilton.

    Meanwhile people can assist the situation by making their opinions known to the councillors – emails at http://www.whakatane.govt.nz/about-the-council/council-people/mayor-and-councillors-profiles.

    This is how the council divided:

    Mayor Bonne and Councillors George Johnston, Scott Jarrett, Dave Sheaff, Alison Silcock and Gerard van Beek voted for the recommendation to not add fluoride;

    with councillors Deputy Mayor Judy Turner, Julie Jukes, John Pullar, Russell Orr and Andrew Iles voting against the recommendation.

    Nobody seems to have suggested a judicial review at this stage.


  3. Yes, if sense prevails this will reinforce calls for the matter to be dealt with at the national level.

    But given the incumbent libertarian ideologues sitting on the government benches, who are hell-bent on reducing to nothing all the historical functions of government, I don’t rate very highly the likelihood of that happening.


  4. Whakatane Natural Health Centre got an ASA complaint:


  5. Zammbi, I see that complaint was upheld and it was specifically aimed at Jon Burness who the Mayor classified as an “expert.”.


  6. The Meridian Kinesiology webpage appears to remain on the internet and still makes the same quack and woo claims.


    So much for the ASA’s teeth.


  7. Ken you fail as a scientist unless you relate the turnout.

    Say it was 30%. That would mean 18% felt strongly enough to support fluoridation and 12% strongly enough to oppose it. So the council listened to the data that the other 70% were not confident enough about so didn’t vote.

    Now let’s get in more data like the copper levels in the water in the Dunedin Broadbent study which is the only one touted to be proof fluoride is not inversely correlated with IQ.

    An article in the New Zealand Journal of Science 1973, Vol 16, 349-388 by Page on Copper Contamination of Water, p. 385 says, “The average early morning (about 10 hours retention) levels of contamination from kitchen sinks, and similar sources, were also less than 1ppm, but occasional values of up to 3.5 ppm occurred.

    Areas of Dunedin had been having problems with corrosion of copper plumbing and there was argument as to whether it was caused by the alum flocculant, since aluminium was found in plaques near the cracks in plumbing, or whether it was the softness/acidity of the water.


    Stenhammar 1979
    ?, 1–2.5 yr
    Oral ingestion for unknown duration of tap water containing Cu at 0.22–1 mg/L
    Prolonged diarrhea with weight loss; symptoms disappeared with change of water source

    Need to allow that the first water of the day is greater in copper, but the pregnant mum might have been getting that.

    “Neurodevelopmental delay in children
    exposed in utero to hyperemesis gravidarum”

    Click to access 55386f940cf226723ab62ef2.pdf

    Broadbent do not reply to my requests for more specific data. Since Royal Commission have used his research may be the Ombudsman would get it for me.


  8. Brian, you should calm down and read my posts. I did refer to the normal low turnout, pointing out the Mayors hypocrisy – is he going to use the normally low turnout to refuse to stand down if he is not reelected? Given this context I think it is clutching at straws to ignore the referendum result on these grounds.

    Worse still is the way the Mayor described Mary Byrne and Jon Burnett as “experts.” That is incredible.

    I am not surprised Broadbent ignore you and other nutters. He would not have specific access to the information you demand and you should search for it yourself. If it isn’t available then update your skills, get a research grant and do the measurements yourself.


  9. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2001 Jun;33(3):271-5.
    Nausea threshold in apparently healthy individuals who drink fluids containing graded concentrations of copper

    2 ppm shouldn’t cause nausea and 4 ppm shouldn’t cause vomiting in one study, but what about triggering the predisposition of pregnancy sickness?


  10. Information ror non regular readers:

    Brian Sandle, aka soundhill1, is Open Parachute blog’s resident hobgoblin (house troll).


  11. Brian, you are at it again with your old trick of attempting to divert attention away from the subject of the article. Your comments are just not relevant.


  12. “He [Broadbent] would not have specific access to the information you demand”

    If he does not wish to give me better indication of which outer suburb(s) his control group came from I think he is trying to cover something up.


  13. And Ken I am sure you won’t be appreciated by women who have gone through pregnancy sickness having any investigation labelled as “nutter.”


  14. Brian, I am sure most pregnant women would prefer research on their problems be done by credible researchers, not nutters.


  15. Ken you ask why should those activists words be accepted. Then you say it is off topic if I ask why should the Royal Commission words be accepted, and point to a big hole in their star reference paper.


  16. Ken, Stuartg called out the Lin FF paper since it did not give enough info about the districts. Now you say it is nutter if I call out the Royal Commission star reference paper, Broadbent, for the same reason?

    It’s a weak but common approach of those with a sales-“science” agenda to label as nutter the things which challenge them.


  17. Interesting that Mayor Bonne considers robust debate “for 2 hours” by councillors who listened to only 2 experts from each side of the debate is sufficient to overturn the clear mandate from the people of Whakatane and Ohope to retain fluoridated water in not just 2013 but also referendum in 1995 and 2001. It would appear that the low voter turnout ( which is common in local body elections) is just a smokescreen he has used to promote his own philosophies by taking it to a council vote where he could best influence the decision. Councillors are not health professionals and to compare this process he has overseen with his belief that it should be a central govt. decision doesn’t stack up and if we are to have an alternative then clearly a referendum is the fairest. Unless it doesn’t go your way and you are the major apparently. It is also interesting that to note that of those councillors representing the Whakatane/Ohope wards the 6 incumbents are locked at 3 all and it is only by way of those councillors representing non- fluoridated wards adding their voice that the mayor can scrape up his one vote majority. Is that fair to those residents who actually drink the water and did turn up to vote?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Richard it’s easier for residents who want fluoride to add it to the water than for those who do not want it to remove it.

    The trouble is people who want it in the water believe they are doing the right thing for others who will not bother. It sure sets a precedent.


  19. Ken: “I am not surprised Broadbent ignore you and other nutters. He would not have specific access to the information you demand and you should search for it yourself. If it isn’t available then update your skills, get a research grant and do the measurements yourself.”

    As I said I need to know where the subjects lived. Broadbent should be able to give me an approximation. Someone has said the non-fluoridated people lived in Mosgiel.

    I have obtained recent water data for that. It come from underground. The Mosgiel nitrate level is somewhere near 5 mg/litre. A USA study reported no blue baby below 10 mg/litre.

    Click to access envhper00512-0111.pdf

    but does that mean no effect at 5, even if the baby does not appear blue?
    If a few of these babies IQs are getting hurt that could give the fluoridated area, with much lower nitrate, an advantage.

    So for interested people reading I thought to mention that,

    The water comes out of the ground quite acid with CO2 in it in Mosgiel, whereas the other areas are mainly surface water. Vortex accelerators are used to aerate it and remove the CO2 to quite a degree. I averaged over several wells and the pH before and after is about 6.5 and 7.6. and I need to find out about the effect of soda ash which is used in Mosgiel. I also need to find what was being done about pH there a year before the subjects of the Broadbent study were born.

    Even fairly recently there has been trouble with corrosion – with stainless steel water cylinders.


    If they corrode so would likely lead be in the water from brass fittings, though I am not sure how much. As I said I am wondering about the effect of copper.

    Thanks if you are interested.

    I suppose I might learn from plumbers about the past.


  20. Making Sense of Reality

    Fluoridating water is forced medication without consent.

    Instead of addressing excess sugar consumption, you just want to put some HAZCHEM into the water supply.
    Lazy and short-sighted.

    Only 23 councils out of 67 have any fluoridation. Meaning two thirds of Coucil voting power was used AGAINST fluoridation.
    HFA is classified as a ‘Dangerous Good’ according to NZS 5433:2007 Transport of Dangerous Goods on Land.
    HFA is classified as ‘Hazardous’ according to criteria in the HS (Minimum Degrees of Hazard) Regulations 2001
    In other words, the HFA (Hydroflurosilicic Acid) that is added to water is poisonous.

    **Orica HydroFlurosilicic Acid (HFA) HAZCHEM**

    Click to access Hydrofluorosilicic%20acid%20HFA.PDF.pdf

    1.) How big is a developing fetus to the scale of a full-grown Human?
    You think a developing Fetus can handle the same dilution as a grown Adult and be born with no adverse effects?
    You must be half-asleep.

    2.) IT DOESN’T MATTER what dosage of Hydrofluorosilicic Acid (HAZCHEM) is added to the water as it is a CUMULATIVE toxin.

    **Fluoride as Bio-accumulator.**

    ONLY 50% of the fluoride can only be cleaned out of the blood through the kidney’s, the rest continues to build up in your system as you continue to add it into your system.

    Eventually producing HIGH LEVELS OF FLUORIDE inturn causing Fluorosis and adverse neurobehaviour.

    3.) ALSO from 1986 – 2004 the CDC show KEY FINDINGS of an INCREASE of almost 20%
    (Almost 1% a year increase) of fluorosis in adolescents aged 12–15 even though they were consuming fluoridated water.

    “In 1986–1987, 22.6% of adolescents aged 12–15 had dental fluorosis, whereas in 1999–2004,
    40.7% of adolescents aged 12–15 had dental fluorosis”
    -NCHS Data Brief No. 53 November 2010

    Click to access db53.pdf

    It is absorbed through the skin when bathing, showering, or swimming in fluoridated water.
    You absorb it through the tissues of your mouth when brushing your teeth.
    If you water your garden with it, your crops will have higher traces of it.
    Cooking with fluoride in water concentrates it in food and beverages.
    You CAN’T cook it out.
    Only 50% of it can be excreted by the body so it is a CUMULATIVE toxin leading to many health problems.

    I personally don’t drink brain-impairing, toothpaste water/medication.

    ***See also:***

    **Hydrofluorosilicic Acid spill. (What if this happened in NZ!)**

    **Only 5.7% of the worlds population fluoridate water today.**
    (The world doesn’t want it)

    1.) SWEDEN
    The parliament majority said that there were other and better ways of reducing tooth decay than water fluoridation. Four cities received permission to fluoridate tap water when it was legal.[75]:56–57 An official commission was formed, which published its final report in 1981. They recommended other ways of reducing tooth decay (improving food and oral hygiene habits) instead of fluoridating tap water. They also found that many people found fluoridation to infringe upon personal liberty/freedom of choice by forcing them to be medicated, and that the long-term effects of fluoridation were insufficiently acknowledged. They also lacked a proper study on the effects of fluoridation on formula-fed infants

    According to the Danish Ministry of Environment and Energy, “toxic fluorides have never been added to the public water supplies”, therefore Denmark does not practice artificial water fluoridation.

    3.) HUNGARY
    In the early 1960s the city of Szolnok briefly fluoridated its water. The program was discontinued due to technical problems and a view that fluoridation did not seem reasonable.

    4.) ISRAEL
    Fluoride was required in water supplies nationwide by legislation passed in 2002,[19] but the requirement was repealed in 2014, and artificial fluoridation was disparaged by national health officials, effectively ending the practice in Israel

    **Reputable NZ anti-fluoride informaiton.**


  21. Making Sense of Reality – Monique, I have already gone through you claims point by point on the Making Sense of Fluoride page. Lets no repeat it here.

    Why don’t you pull out one of your claims, provide evidence or citations, and we can have a calm discussion here? Other commenters may also wish to contribute.


  22. **Reputable NZ anti-fluoride informaiton.**



  23. Open Letter to Councillors
    We are to have another debate on the fluoride issue and I make no apologies for helping to make that happen because I don’t believe that we properly debated this issue last week. I certainly wasn’t prepared because earlier the Mayor had indicated to me that he supported the Status Quo and I was happy to go along with that.
    The Mayor has released an email he has sent to certain members of the public in which he attempts to explain his position. Explaining is losing but never less the Mayor explains that Councillors took into account the non-binding referendum we held in 2013 amongst other things, but doesn’t really explain why he and 5 others Councillors then chose it ignore it.
    The Mayors position in a nutshell, appears to be that it was more important to send a message to Central Government (and avoid responsibility) than it was to do something proven to help children’s oral health and comply with the wishes of the community.
    It is this aspect of the decision that concerns me most. This is not the way this Council usually makes decisions. Normally we would consider the options and select one to be consulted on. We could have done this for the fluoride issue but instead we chose to proceed by way of referendum.
    Referendum is not a cheap option and more importantly it is not a submission process. You can have one or the other but not both. Council has missed this point and ‘invited’ submissions from certain persons. Again this is not good process. If you are going to consider submissions as part of the decision process then submissions need to be open to everyone not just a selected few.
    The public were not able to make a submission unless they were invited. That was obviously unfair and a mistake in my view.
    Furthermore it was apparent that some Councillors were influenced by the submissions made on the day. This was evidenced by the questions asked and comments made around statistics that were produced at the last minute by submitters against fluoride. Remember they did this during a submission process that wasn’t open to everyone.
    The way Council make decisions is well regulated by the Local Government Act and we have to be very careful as to the process we use. On the matter of process alone a judicial review of the decision of 28th January 2016 would succeed in my view.
    On the moral side of the argument we are elected to make decisions on behalf of the community and most of the time we use our own philosophy and personal views, combined with information, advice and submissions, to make a decision. The exception to this is when we decide to call a referendum on a particular issue. Then we are handing back some of the decision making power to the people.
    There is simply no point in having a referendum if you are going to ignore the result. As an example I am against fluoride being added to the water on philosophical grounds. I am an advocate of personal responsibility and believe that people should be responsible for their own heath needs and that of their children.
    But this matter went to a referendum and the wishes of the people were clear. No matter what my personal view on this issue is, I am not arrogant enough to ignore the result. Imagine if the results of the flag referendum, were strongly in favor of retaining the old flag but the Government decided to change to the new one anyway!
    As far as I can ascertain no Council to date has ever gone against the result of a public referendum on fluoride. Hamilton initially proceeded without one and horribly misread public opinion. When a referendum was finally held showing the level of support they agreed to put the fluoride back.
    But we can’t even hide behind the excuse that we didn’t know what the public wanted, it’s just that some of us have chosen to ignore them. If you are saying that you know better than the people of Ohope and Whakatane who supported the continuation of Fluoride in their water supply, then good luck with that!

    Russell Orr 5/2/16


  24. Thanks for sending us the open letter, Russell.

    Are you making it public elsewhere?

    Certainly looks luke you have a good case for getting that decision reversed.

    Good luck at the next meeting.


  25. Russel – you refer to ” statistics that were produced at the last minute by submitters against fluoride.”

    Were these from Jon Burness and did he show this graph?:


    I bet he didn’t mention this letter he got from the DHB warning him not to draw conclusions from the data because of statistical issues:


  26. You are correct . These were the stats presented to us albeit in a slightly different format, and no we certainly were not told about the letter. I have a real problem with the process we used last week. We are not the ‘Oxford debating society’ where representatives from both sides debate an issue and we declare the winner! The process for Local Government decision making is designed for public input and fairness and does not support statistical ambush for exactly the reason you demonstrate.


  27. Russell, the process aside, it’s very disconcerting when elected representitives place weight on submissions from woo-meisters of Crankland.


  28. I am not sure that they were. My take was that the philosophical aspect was the main driver for most of the Councillors who voted to remove the fluoride. Clearly, however, the practiced recitals and statistics from the anti fluoride lobby were seized upon as well. After all it is only human to more readily accept arguments that support your own philosophy and reject those that don’t.


  29. Hi Russell

    I hope you don’t mind but I’ve posted your open letter to the Making Sense of Fluoride website, hopefully more people will see it. http://msof.nz/2016/02/russell-orrs-open-letter-to-the-whakatane-council/



  30. Hi Ken,

    You can publish the attached if you want .. I would but without the red text its harder to read.




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