The first place in New Zealand to have fluoridated water will hold a referendum to decide if it should be removed.

Fluoride was introduced to Hastings' water supply in 1954.

Hastings district councillors yesterday voted unanimously in favour of holding a binding referendum. Papers will be sent out with voting papers in the 2013 local government election.

The decision follows months of lobbying by a group opposed to fluoridation, culminating in a public meeting in April which saw health experts debate with Paul Connett, chemistry professor at St Lawrence University New York and Fluoride Action Network research director.

Only water in the wards of Hastings, Havelock North and Flaxmere is fluoridated. Hastings last voted on fluoridation in 1990, with 56 per cent in favour.If eligible electors vote for a change, the council will not have to repay a $244,100 subsidy from the Health Ministry for a new fluoridation plant..

From the Dominion Post.