Safe drinking water is crucial to public health. The outbreak of gastroenteritis in Havelock North in August 2016 shook public confidence in this fundamental service. Some 5,500 of the town’s 14,000 residents were estimated to have become ill with campylobacteriosis. Some 45 were subsequently hospitalised. It is possible that the outbreak contributed to three deaths, and an unknown number of residents continue to suffer health complications.
The August 2016 outbreak was traced to contamination of the drinking water supplied by two bores in Brookvale Road, on the outskirts of Havelock North. This raised serious questions about the safety and security of New Zealand’s drinking water.
Accordingly, in September 2016, the government established this inquiry into the outbreak. The inquiry has proceeded in two stages. This report, on Stage 1 of the Inquiry, focuses on identifying what happened, what caused the outbreak, and assessing the conduct of those responsible for providing safe drinking water to Havelock North. Stage 2 of the inquiry will address lessons learned for the future and steps to be implemented to reduce the likelihood of such an outbreak occurring again.