Why become a Water-Only school?

There is a growing movement towards schools becoming Water-Only and Healthy Futures is excited about the benefits of this around Wellington. TV3's Jesse Mulligan and The Project team talked about water-only schools this week with Helen Clark and Rob Beaglehole.

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Click here to watch The Project's Water-Only schools movie  

The article pointed out that we aren’t giving our kids a chance to be healthy and that:

  • The common risk factor for many preventable diseases as well as dental problems is sugar.

  • There are hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders living with the complications of type 2 diabetes including kidney failure, eyesight problems and amputations.

  • The number 1 source of sugar in New Zealand is sugary drinks.

  • Two years ago the government recommended moving to a water-only policy in schools. Now we need to do it!


The number 1 source of sugar in New Zealand is sugary drinks


Helen Clark identifies preventable diseases as a huge problem for New Zealand, but we can do something about this. Healthy Futures is involved in a range of programmes aimed at building a community where children are thriving, free from preventable health issues.


Why go Water-Only?

According to Regional Public Health “Because sugary drinks (like fizzy drinks, sports drinks, flavoured milk and juices) cause tooth decay, obesity and diabetes and also make it harder for children to learn while at school.

Children should be having no more than 5 teaspoons of added sugar (around 20g) per day. These sugary drinks are all too high in sugar:

·       600ml bottle fizzy drink has 16 teaspoons of added sugar

·       350ml fruit juice has 10 teaspoons of added sugar

·       750ml sports drink has 15 teaspoons of added sugar

*From Regional Public Health’s Example letter to Parents



What about milk drinks?

Milk drinks are often promoted as being healthy for our children, but flavoured milk also has a high sugar content. 

Check out the sugar content in a 250ml carton of flavoured milk:

Up and Go - Choc Ice has  19.2 g sugar = 4.8 teaspoons

Anchor Calciyum Chocolate has 20g sugar = 5 teaspoons

Meadowfresh Chocolate 23g sugar = 5.75 teaspoons

Water-Only schools resource

Healthy Futures has been promoting water through our Wai Water work for many years. We worked on this resource with other local DHBs,  Ministry of Education and local organisations promoting community health.

Download the Water-Only school toolkit

The resource includes:

Case Studies

  • Otaki School
  • Brooklyn School
  • Randwick School


  1. Is going water only telling parents what they can and can’t give their children?
  2. How is switching to water going to change health?
  3. Why should we adopt a water-only policy?

Resources and useful links

  • Example Letter to parents
  • Suggested Policy Document
  • Useful infographics
  • Lots of websites with ideas

Download the Water-Only school toolkit (PDF) 

What can you do?

1. Here's a letter from “The Project” that you can email to your local school to suggest becoming water-only.

Water-Only schools letter

2. Share the word about about the benefits of going water only for our tamariki via word of mouth, Facebook....

The Healthy Futures Facebook page has lots of ideas about encouraging healthy eating and activity.

3. Sign up for our newsletter and check out our website for programmes around Wellington that you or your local school can get involved with such as Garden to Table Schools.  There's been some great stuff happening at Onslow College, Brooklyn School and Brooklyn Junior Cricket Club. 

Let’s give kids the opportunity to have a healthy start to life by going water-only!