61% of New Zealanders on registered drinking water supplies have access to fluoridated drinking water
About 4.1 million New Zealanders (81.4% of the population) were served water from registered drinking water supplies during the 2019–2020 reporting period. The remainder of the population received drinking water from very small community supplies and self-supplies, e.g. rainwater tanks. Of the population on registered supplies, 61.4% (2,539,700 people) had access to fluoridated drinking-water. From 2014–2015 onwards, this proportion has remained relatively stable, never ranging below 58.1% (Figure 1).
The peak in the proportion of the population receiving fluoridated water in 2010/11 was due to a large drop in the recorded population on registered water supplies. In 2010/11, 10 supplies serving 400,000 people in Christchurch were excluded from the Annual Drinking-water Quality Report following the Canterbury earthquakes. The actual number of people receiving fluoridated water did not change in equal measure, as Christchurch’s water supply is not fluoridated. As the recorded ‘total population on registered supplies’ changed drastically for this period only, the peak should be discounted as an outlier.
Differing population growth rates between communities of different fluoridation status also affects the proportion of New Zealanders receiving fluoridated drinking water .
Figure 1: Percentage of the population on registered community drinking-water supplies with access to fluoridated drinking-water, 2010–2020
People in the North Island were four times more likely to have access to fluoridated drinking water than people in the South Island
In the North Island, 74.1% of the population on registered supplies were served fluoridated water in the 2019/20 reporting period. Thirty-three of the North Island’s 253 registered supplies were fluoridated, spread across 19 territorial authorities. In the South Island, just 18.4% of the population on registered supplies were served fluoridated water. Nine of the South Island’s 230 registered supplies were fluoridated, covering six territorial authorities. Most of the territorial authorities with access to fluoridated drinking-water were those containing major urban areas, especially in the North Island (Figure 2); Christchurch, New Plymouth and Tauranga were notable exceptions to this. Wellington, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Porirua and Dunedin had 100% of their population served by fluoridated drinking-water supplies.
Figure 2: Percentage of the population on registered drinking water supplies with access to fluoridated drinking water, by territorial authority, 2019–2020
Information about this indicator
The datasets for this indicator come from the Ministry of Health’s ‘Annual report on drinking-water quality’. Drinking water statistics are presented for all registered community drinking water supplies that served more than 100 people.
Ministry of Health. (2020). Annual report on drinking water quality 2018-2019. Wellington: Ministry of Health.