An opponent of fluoride may challenge the Hawke's Bay District Health Board to a public debate on the pros and cons of continuing to add the chemical to the Hastings district water supply.
International speaker and fluoride opponent Paul Connett begins his "Fluoridation Trooth Tour" in New Zealand at the end of the month and planned a series of public presentations in Hastings.
He will be hosted by Fluoride Free Hawke's Bay, which campaigned for a referendum asking Hastings people whether they wanted to continue fluoridation of their water. The referendum will be held in October, along with the council elections.
Fluoride Free Hawke's Bay and the district health board, which advocates for fluoride to remain, would be allowed to submit 500 words each for the referendum paper to be sent out to voters.
Fluoride Free Hawke's Bay spokeswoman Angela Hair said she hoped the DHB would want to meet with Dr Connett when he arrived to discuss the referendum and, if it wanted, to take part in a public debate or workshop on the fluoride issue.
"Sometimes Paul had debates with health authorities and other times it's just presentation to the public," Mrs Hair said.
"We've organised for him to talk at a few public meetings in Hastings, Flaxmere, Havelock North and we're hoping Hastings district councillors and the DHB might come along as well."
Mrs Hair said there were many international reports supporting the removal of fluoride from water but admitted there was no major research in New Zealand.
"The Ministry of Health, along with the DHBs, should be doing the research, I believe, to look at the long-term health of people who are drinking water that has fluoride in it. At the very least they should be looking at people accumulating fluoride and run tests to see what it might be doing in the blood or the urine, in a similar way tests are done for iron or other minerals which may be out of balance."
Dr Connett hoped to meet with Ministry of Health policy-makers during his visit to New Zealand.
"The DHBs appear to be following the ministry's stance to support fluoride and Paul wants to meet with senior policy advisers, as he did during his last visit two years ago, to talk about the latest research coming out from other countries," Mrs Hair said.
She has begun conducting a public awareness campaign ahead of the referendum later this year. "I was in a supermarket this morning asking people their views on the matter and I believe there is a huge swing towards removing fluoride from the water."