A report into Havelock North's water contamination has criticised the country's drinking water laws. Its main recommendations for changes are:

The response

"The quality of drinking water in New Zealand is often inadequate, and that regulation and enforcement have been poor. We must do better." - Attorney- General David Parker

"Overall, this report raises serious concerns about oversight and infrastructure. We will be pursuing solutions to address any problems identified." - Health Minister David Clark

"There has been a considerable amount of work undertaken since the outbreak that has seen closer working relationships developed between local authorities and the DHB ... it is a thought-provoking and detailed report that we will be reviewing thoroughly." - Hawke's Bay District Health Board chief executive Kevin Snee


Cabinet is to be briefed on planned response by Christmas.

What you need to know

  • People on reticulated water systems (such as those used in Auckland and Wellington) should have nothing to worry about.

  • The main risk identified in the report is to people who are receiving water through uncapped bores.

    Rain water and run-off can get into the drinking water bringing bacteria such as E-Coli.

  • People on a town supply, who are concerned about the safety of their water, should contact their supplier (usually your local council) to determine the safety of the water currently supplied.

  • If you are in any doubt about the microbial safety of your water you are advised to boil it prior to drinking.

    Boiling inactivates all bacteria, protozoa and viruses.

  • For people on self-supplies (e.g roof water), information on managing your supply safely can be found here
  • More information on the supply of drinking water in NZ is available here