Kawerau residents are up in arms after their tap water turned a questionable yellow, but the mayor says it is due to chlorination and is still safe to drink.

A photo of the water has been circulating on social media, with many people commenting the water appeared like a certain bodily discharge.

Kawerau District Mayor Malcolm Campbell said the discolouring was due to chlorination, and the water was still safe to drink.

"It is safe, as it is chlorinated, and it comes out of a spring, not a river.

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"The issue is because our water has never been chlorinated before there is a lot of gunk on the pipes that has built up over years.

"The chlorine is stripping it off, which is why it has turned that colour. It is not occurring everywhere, it is sporadic."

Campbell said people who found their water was discoloured should call the council immediately, and contractors would come and flush it out.

If people wanted to sort it out themselves they should run the outside taps for 30 minutes to clear the pipes.

Campbell said the issues began when they were "forced" by the Government to chlorinate their water, following the 2016 gastroenteritis outbreak in Havelock North which was traced back to E. coli in the water supply. An inquiry found a risk of contaminants entering bore water through below-ground well heads.

Not the most appetising colour. Photo / Supplied
Not the most appetising colour. Photo / Supplied

"We had the most pristine water in New Zealand, we did not want to have to chlorinate it," Campbell said.

"We were told it could take three to four months for the colour to clear, but it has been much longer and we are not happy about it."