An 2022 order by former Director-General of Health Sir Ashley Bloomfield for 14 councils to fluoridate some or all of their drinking water supplies has been ruled unlawful by the High Court.
The Court found that there should have been specific consideration of rights under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.
“The Director-General directed 14 local authorities to fluoridate 19 drinking water supplies. The process error was made by not explicitly considering the rights under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 in making a decision on each direction,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement.
The Ministry says the recent High Court judgement “has not quashed the directions to fluoridate drinking water and they remain in force”.
The 10 November High Court judgment was prompted by a challenge to the directions.
The Ministry is now considering the implications of the judgment and says it will continue to support the 14 local authorities involved to implement the directions, including by providing funding for the capital works.
“The decision concerns the process required to be used in deciding to issue a direction,” it said in a statement.
“The judgment is not about the public health merits of fluoridation or whether fluoridation can be justified under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.
“Manatū Hauora continues to support community water fluoridation as a safe, effective and affordable way of preventing tooth decay.”
The judgment can be found here: 2023-NZHC-3183.pdf (courtsofnz.govt.nz).