Leading issue in New Plymouth by-election far from simple


Writes Bennett Morgan & Michael Riley

INFOGRAPHIC: Insiders NZ, Bennett Morgan.

The New Plymouth District is heading to the polls this month to elect two new City Ward Councillors, and they’ve got 13 to choose from, but after our infographic is published, that number could change.

Two seats on the New Plymouth District Council are up for grabs after two councillors John McLeod and Len Houwers resigned late last year stating Maori Wards and binding refereda issues were the reasoning.

But for the upcoming election, its not about the dead issue of Maori Wards, or binding referendums. The election is largely overtaken with the debate of fluoride, and for one candidate, the response has been huge.

Gibson, Goodin, Holdom, Kane, Quinney, Manukonga, West and Wilkes are all candidates against fluoride in the New Plymouth water supply, which quietly amused our bloggers because there is no candidate against fluoride that we’d ever suspect to win the seat’s.

On the pro fluoride side is active fluoride campaigner Reuben Doyle who largely began the debate with his “Bring back the fluoride” political campaign to enter the council by storm for the March 10 election. He’s told Insiders NZ that the response has been huge.

Other hot shot candidates in support of fluoride is former ‘CHANGE’ candidate Peter Barker, Leaving Port Taranaki Chief Executive Roy Weaver, Former Mayor Harry Duynhoven and political hopeful Mary Barnard.

Port Taranaki CEO Roy Weaver spoke with Insiders NZ Reporter Michael Riley and wants a binding community poll on fluoride to take place. “The Fluoride issue is an ideal topic for a binding community poll. It is an issue of personal health and so is very emotive. A community poll is a cost effective way of determining the issue for a set time to be nominated.” he said.

However fellow candidate Bev Gibson disagrees with Mr Weaver and is fully against fluoride. “Fluoride is a highly toxic chemical by-product of aluminium, phosphate, cement, steel and of nuclear weapons manufacturing and can effect an individual’s endocrine system, bones, brain, thyroid gland, pineal gland and even your blood sugars.” she said.

Former Mayor Harry Duynhoven agrees with Mr Doyle’s stance, in fact told Insiders NZ that the reason fluoride was voted down was because anti fluoride groups from across the world affected the decision in New Plymouth.

“Councillors received huge numbers of e-mails from anti-fluoride lobbyists from all over the world, the majority voted to remove it from our water supply [for that reason].” Duynhoven told Michael Riley.

City Ward candidate Reuben Doyle told Bennett Morgan of Insiders NZ that he had been doorknocking and people were asking which other candidates supported fluoride. “It has been a great response so far, but voters want options. Fluoride is the leading by-election issue.”

Voting packs arrive in New Plymouth letter box’s this month with the election result being published on March 10.


36 thoughts on “Leading issue in New Plymouth by-election far from simple

  1. Michael Riley quotes former mayor Duynhoven as saying, “Councillors received huge numbers of e-mails from anti-fluoride lobbyists from all over the world, the majority voted to remove it from our water supply [for that reason].”

    That’s total rubbish as council at the time listened to evidence from both sides of the dispute at a lengthy public hearing and resolved on the balance of that evidence to take fluoride out. Evidence against fluoridation has strengthened since.

    Michael Riley and company should do some deep research on the cumulative whole of body effects of even low doses of fluoride. A good start is the bibliography of fluoride science at http://www.slweb.org.

    Until he can find evidence that shows statistical viability of water fluoridation in terms of human safety, and margin of error calculations, for infants, young children, elderly, or any adult with disability, diabetes, bone disease, autism, thyroid ailments or kidney disease Michael Riley should stop trying to boost his youthful political aspirations advocating for a lost cause.

    • Ross, maybe you should contact the former Mayor with that concern, rather then a teenager for getting the discussion out in the open?

      Regardless of which angle Michael Riley supports, this provides a great insight for anti fluoride, and pro fluoride on who ratepayers should vote for. In fact, Riley hasn’t stated his opinion in the forum, not that it would matter in the first place. He’s a teenager. The candidates aren’t. Go have a dig at Roy Weaver, or someone of importance?

      In New Plymouth Riley is not pushing the cause, in fact the candidates in support of fluoride are. So don’t be such a bully and leave the teenager alone. He should be praised for being involved in politics at such a young age. End of story.

      • Actually Michael has stated his position. He is pro fluoride. He is now trying to pretend to be providing a neutral platform to hold a discussion. End of story.

        “Dear Ed,

        Bringing fluoride back to the water supply is becoming a hot topic in the New Plymouth District. I have found there to be a lack of respected studies on why fluoride shouldn’t be in our taps.
        Ministry of Health has concluded that after around 70 years of using fluoride in NZ there is no verifiable evidence that fluoridation is harmful in New Zealand. Water fluoridation is an effective, safe and affordable way to prevent and reduce tooth decay for everyone.

        Respected health organizations that have studied fluoride for years on end has proven Fluoride Free “facts” to be scaremongering and inaccurate. The NZ Oral Health Survey 2009 confirms that on average New Zealand children have 40% less decay in areas with fluoridation compared to areas without it.

        Fluoride benefits everyone in this district for less than 50 cents a person, per year; this is compared to the average cost of a single filling being $130! Hundreds of respected health organizations from around the world, around this country and locally support fluoride. They’re the likes of the Cancer Society, Ministry of Health, World Health Organization, NZ Medical Association, The Maori Dental Association and our local Taranaki District Health Board. The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe it.

        Michael Riley”


      • Kane, I said he hasnt stated an opinion in this forum. This has been shared wide and far even with our counterparts at Fluoride Free, and they’ve told us that it seems like a civil discussion platform. However, whats this got to do with Michael Riley? Try and debate the real candidates. Riley is just a teenager.

      • Taranaki Politics is being disingenuous in saying that Michael Riley hasn’t stated an opinion on fluoridation in this particular forum. Perhaps not directly but certainly by implication.
        Firstly, although all pro and anti-fluoridation candidates are mentioned by name it is only the pro-fluoridation candidates whose comments are quoted.
        Secondly, just look at Bennett Morgan’s accompanying infographic. Over the five pro-fluoridation candidates a green (go) cuffed hand has a thumb up but over the eight anti-fluoridation candidates a red (stop) cuffed hand has a thumb down.
        If this is not pro-fluoridation bias what is?
        It is Michael Riley’s name on the posting and the fact he is a teenager is totally irrelevant. He has been deeply involved in New Plymouth local politics for some time as his NPYIP facebook pages and the Taranaki Daily Times show quite clearly. He did not appear to be a shrinking violet in his online dispute with Cr Murray Chong.
        Incidentally, this is the first time in close on 80 years that I have been accused of being a bully so be careful with any response or you might be open to criticism of harassing an old man.

  2. It is very easy to deceive people, its almost impossible to convince people that they have been deceived! Fluoride is one such subject. It is a toxic waste by product of the aluminum industry.There is no evidence that it stops tooth decay.there is plenty of dubious science to try and support fluoride in water supplies most of it backed by those who have a vested interest in trying to dispose of this toxic substance.

    • Brian – there is loads of evidence that fluroide is beneficial to oral health. Loads. You are attempting to poison the well by talking about vested interests – why not look at the big business interests (“natural” health industry) behind ther anti-fluoride movement – fianncing the High Court cases, promoting through web sites and magazines, etc.

      Every concentrated chemical is toxic, but there is absolutely no evidence of toxicity at the optimum concentrations used in community water fluoridation.

      As for sourcing from the Al industry – just not true in NZ. And how can a beneficial chemical which is being used be a waster?

      • Ken, could you please confirm where the fluoride chemical comes from to fluoridate in New Zealand. Is the Fluoride Chemical refined in anyway?


      • See Kane, you are actually asking me a specific question on the issue. That is the sort of thing that can be answered in an information meeting of the form I suggest.

        The fact you are unaware of the source and nature of the fluoridating chemicals used in NZ, and yet you are a leader of an anti-fluoride political group, just shows the ignorance that is around. I am sure most of the council candidates and members of the public are just as uniformed or misinformed as you.

        I can’t see why you should oppose an information meeting.

      • Good, Kane. you support the concept of an information meeting and clearly you need some information. Now it is up to the locals, Michael etc., to decide what they want. I am just offering my suggestions but it is not up to me to organise anything. We will see what Michael thinks,

  3. A public debate does not inform science or replace scientific evidence.
    Fluoridation has been around for 70 years and there has been no evidence – none whatsoever showing it to be dangerous.
    There is not one scientific community on the planet that opposes fluoridation.

    There is however no shortage of conspiracy theorists and google researchers claiming all manner of ills – without I might add a skerrick of evidence.
    Listen to the science – not the crackpots that misrepresent it

    • Michael Riley would like to hold a public discussion regarding fluoridation between Council nominees in New Plymouth. His idea not ours. Fluoride Free NZ accepts this idea and is open to assisting in holding an open transparent public discussion with a neutral moderator on the topic of fluoridation.

      Why does Christopher Atkinson not share Michael’s enthusiasm for an open transparent discussion? Is it because we will find that Christopher’s religious faith in fluoridation won’t hold up to scrutiny in the public domain?

      • My experience of the “transparent public discussion with a neutral moderator’ run by the Fluoride Free orgnisations is that questions were not allowed from the floor on the pain of expulsion from the meeting. Open and transparent my arse!

      • Ken, Michael has suggested a neutral moderator for an open public discussion. I am still waiting to hear from Michael. You are referring to a meeting that we ran. It wasn’t a debate. It was put on to get our side across.

        Michael has suggested an open public transparent discussion between the Taranaki nominees for Council.

        I can’t understand why you wouldn’t support that suggestion from Michael?

      • Fascinating that Kane is fixated on a debate.

        I notice that he provides no evidence…
        I think he misunderstands my reluctance of a ‘debate’.

        If I broke my leg, I wouldn’t like to ‘debate’ the best method of fixing it – no, I would trust science and have a doctor look at it.

        If I wanted to go to Hawaii for a holiday I would trust all the science going into aeronautics to fly me rather than ‘debate’ the best way of lifting me off the ground.

        Fluoridation shouldn’t be up for ‘debate’ – there is nothing to debate.

        There is not one peer reviewed scientific study that shows CWF to be harmful.


        Although I’m sure I will be assailed by cherry picked or irrelevant references from the anti camp.

        Again, this is not a ‘debatable’ subject anymore than the earth is flat – so why give the anti sciencers the oxygen in a ‘debate’ – surely it just encourages them?


      • Chris, Michael has suggested the debate/discussion. I said that we were too busy to help him organise but he pushed the issue. Here is the conversation on FB:

        Michael Riley: “Why dont we create a panel discussion for New Plymouth? Being such an important election issue, three candidates for fluoride, and three against on a panel together chaired by the local newspaper…”

        FFNZ “He can go ahead and arrange that with the candidates. Over to him.”

        Michael Riley: “Well I would love it if Fluoride Free could assist me in creating a panel discussion, if we’re going to do this and do it democratically, then it needs to be done together as a team, otherwise its all going to fall apart. We are in the middle of an election where bringing fluoride back is most important.”

        FFNZ “You don’t need us Michael. We are busy putting on Prof Connett’s Speaking tour.”

        Michael Riley: “You’re letting down your anti fluoride supporters here in New Plymouth though FFNZ.”

        FFNZ “Michael, We accept your idea of holding an open transparent public discussion. Please contact me at Auckland@fluoridefree.org.nz and we can arrange the details. Thanks.”

        By the way FFNZ won’t be debating it will be the Council Nominees. Michael would like our help to put it on.

        We are still waiting to hear from Michael Riley.

      • I suspect that a panel presentation of the sort Michael has suggested is not a starter. After all, there are likely to be more general panels of the candidates enabling them to present their views on all sorts of matters, fluoride would only be a small part.

        However, I think there is some value in an information meeting (not a panel) where interested people get ask questions for clarification. If there is sufficient interest around it could be worth considering.

        Seeing I have written a fair bit about the question and gave the self appointed “world expert on fluoridation” (Paul Connett) a run for his money (yes he actually ran away when I exposed his misinformation and distortions of the scientific literature) I would be happy to present to such an information meeting.

        I would even be prepared to share the platform with an anti-fluoride person from FFNZ – someone like Kane or Mary.

        So Michael what about considering an information evening rather than a panel or debate. Do you think there is sufficent interest for such an event? Would your organisation perhaps be interested in running it? And Kane – would you be happy to share a platform with me? We could be a great Punch and Judy show.

      • Ken, Michael would like the New Plymouth Council nominees to present their views on fluoridation. It isn’t all about you, you know that right?

      • Kane, I haven’t seen the original of Michaek’s suggestion but personally don’t think the candidates themselves have much knowledge in the question.mvoters will pick up the position form other fora anyway.

        May argument is for an information meeting which would give the opportunity for voters, and candidates in the audience, to have their questions answered. I don’t think you want that.

        I have developed that further below.

    • ‘Chris’? I assume you are talking to me?

      Kane, I am not Michael nor have ever met him so have no Idea why you are copying what he has said.

      My comments related to your willingness to have a ‘debate’ and futility in achieving any scientific or practical result.


      • So sorry Christopher. I assumed that you were referring to Michael Riley’s request to hold a discussion/debate in the New Plymouth region. I find your whole MSOF crew completely boring and negative so I’ll leave you to it.

  4. “A majority vote which violates ethical or moral principles, or deprives individuals of rights they should be free to enjoy, is not democracy but tyranny. It is a subversion of democracy that will bring democracy to an end in the degree that it is allowed to operate.” – the late F.B. Exner, MD FACR, Seattle

    Referenda only serve one purpose, and that is to confirm that large sections of the community don’t want fluoridation. The Washington Supreme Court stated in 1954 that if city water is fluoridated, it will be necessary for residents “to use it for domestic purposes including drinking, because there is no other practical source of supply.” Kaul v Chehalis, 45 Wn.2d 616, 277 P.2d 352 (1954) at 618. Some people cannot afford a distiller or a whole house filter. Some are not strong enough to haul water jugs home. Some do not own a vehicle. Some cannot afford to buy water.

  5. Even the CDC backed down about 2000 and admitted that any perceived benefit from fluoride was TOPICAL, as in toothpaste.

    There are several negatives associated with drinking it that are also pretty universally agreed to:
    – Fluoride is an enzyme poison and endocrine disruptor.
    – Fluoride is a “potent adjuvant”… causes or worsens allergies
    – Fluoride is a “proliferative agent”… causes or worsens inflammations
    – Fluoride builds up in bones…. causing or worsening arthritis and brittleness
    – Fluoride impacts thyroid functioning
    – Fluoride is a “burden” to kidneys… causing increased retention and possible damage in those with renal inefficiencies or chronic kidney disease.

    Brush your teeth with it if you want, but those of us with allergies or Celiac disease; arthritis or brittle bones; and/or kidney or thyroid disease would rather not subject our entire bodies to it.

    Segments of the population are unusually susceptible to the toxic effects of fluoride. They include “postmenopausal women and elderly men, pregnant woman and their fetuses, people with deficiencies of calcium, magnesium and/or vitamin C, and people with cardiovascular and kidney problems….Post menopausal women and elderly men in fluoridated communities may also be at risk of fractures.” – United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Report (ATSDR TP-91/17, pg. 112, Sec.2.7, April 1993)

    and The NKF advises it may be “prudent” to monitor the fluoride intake of “patients with chronic renal impairment, children, those with excessive fluoride intake, and those with prolonged disease.” – National Kidney Foundation, Fluoride Intake in Chronic Kidney Disease, April 15, 2008

    • Shane,
      you are being dishonest and scaremongering when you cut and paste your list of things fluoride may cause.

      And when you say ‘those of us with allegies or celiac disease” are affected by community fluoridated water simply shows you know little about basic physiology.

      Fluoridated water is safe and effective – it’s been around for 70 years.

      If you wish to make claims – and you make many – back them up with evidence otherwise no one will take you seriously.

  6. I am amazed but not surprised at the naïve statement from Harry Duynhoven: ” the reason fluoride was voted down was because anti fluoride groups from across the world affected the decision in New Plymouth”. The science around fluoridation was not developed in New Plymouth, indeed it was not even from New Zealand. In the 1950s health officials from NZ were paid to go to America to be learn about the apparent advantages of water fluoridation to address the disease of dental caries. There has been no primary studies in NZ into the potential ill-effects of injecting a fluorine based compound into our drinking water. Instead the effective, safe and affordable mantra developed by US public relations spin-doctors is constantly thrown up whenever concerns are raised about fluoridation.Virtually all the material used by the NZ health authorities has its origins in science developed in industrial laboratories in the US funded by the producers and marketers of fluoride based products.
    Alongside that is the stream of vitriol and denigration cast at the opponents of fluoridation of whom a growing number are well qualified and knowledgeable professionals. The sad reality is that those who protest fluoridation are fighting a well resourced, highly professional and integrated global grouping whose focus is not on finding the truth but on preventing the truth from damaging the advantages they gain from continuing the status quo.
    Why is it that our health authorities cannot produce any primary studies from anywhere that attest to the viability of fluoridation in treating the disease of dental decay.
    The precautionary scientific principle of keeping it out if there is any doubt should apply to fluoridation.

  7. T. A. Crosbie refers to the “precautionary principle”.

    This principle says that if an action is suspected of causing harm to the environment or human health, then, in the absence of scientific consensus, the onus falls on the individual or organisation promoting a cause to prove safety and effectiveness beyond reasonable doubt.

    This principle underlies the conflict between the pro-fluoridation New Zealand dental/health establishment and local citizens in many communities where community water fluoridation exists or is planned. Citizens believe there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the bodily cumulative toxin fluoride causes health problems and should be banned. With fluoridation the New Zealand dental/health establishment ignores the precautionary principle and simply repeats the ‘safe and effective’ mantra.

    In my view, the overall weight of evidence from the cumulative body of information contained in the scientific literature demonstrates that there are significant uncertainties about the kinds of adverse health outcomes that may be associated with fluoridation and the likelihood of the occurrence of adverse health outcomes. (See A Bibliography of Scientific Literature on Fluoride – http://www.slweb.org/bibliography.html)

    Through this site there is access to abstracts for most of the references, and whole papers or excerpts for many. Virtually all listings are peer-reviewed articles from mainstream medical, dental, and scientific journals worldwide, and most offer legitimate reason for concern regarding the health effects of fluoride toxicity and consequently fluoridation.

  8. OK Kane, you aren’t interested or up to it. Michael what do you think?
    My impression is that most of the candidates are actually uninformed or misinformed and could benefit by being in the audience of an information meeting.

    No Kane, it is definitely not about me, but I am interested in countering the misinformation being promoted on this question. An information meeting would help this – and yes there are a number of others beside me who could give a good presentation of the true facts. Just making the offer.

    • Ken, what I think would be useful is hearing from Prof Gluckman and Prof Skegg. I’m sure the people in the Taranaki would like to hear from the best.

      Could you work on getting them to make a public presentation where questions can be asked?

      • As I said, Kane, it is not up to me to organise such a meeting. However, I think a meeting where either or both of those people could answer questions, etc., an information meeting not a debate, would be great. Perhaps Michael could take the suggestion on board.

        After all, the Waikato University organised a meeting like this before Hamilton’s referendum with an expert Chemist Graham Saunders speaking. It was well attended and very informative. Just the sort of meeting I am suggesting.

        Perhaps Michael could consider asking Graham.

      • Michael, was very emphatic that he wanted the support of FFNZ.

        Michael Riley: “You’re letting down your anti fluoride supporters here in New Plymouth though FFNZ.”

        As you well know Ken he has broken the golden rule of Anti health pro fluoridationists in asking for a discussion/debate.

        Michael, I think you can do far better than Graham. He was really poor in the google hang out. http://fluoridefree.org.nz/new-zealand-information/waikato-university-google-hang/

      • Well it is up to Michael what he organises, Kane. I guess he could see your fear of an expert like Graham being involved as a reason to invite the guy. 🙂

      • Well given Michael said that his discussion/debate would fall over without FFNZ I guess he thinks he needs our support.

        Fact is Michael hasn’t been in touch. He probably has looked into the detail and realised the Pro fluoride Anti Health side doesn’t really have an argument. Fair enough.

      • Does that happen to you a lot, Kane? People not getting back in touch?

        Still, it is up to him and his organisation. I have made my suggestions and offers my help.

        Nothing more to say about it really.

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