Childhood years are when lifelong food and drink habits are established. Schools and early childhood education (ECE) services have the opportunity to create a culture of healthy eating where children are supported to develop lifelong preferences that will help them grow into healthy adults.

Schools and ECE services are important role models for their communities and have an influence well beyond their students and their families.

Toi Te Ora Public Health supports ECE services and schools to promote water and milk as the preferred drinks for children. 


Has your school started the journey to become water only? 

The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health encourage all schools and kura in New Zealand to be water and plain milk only.  Read more about the Ministries’ support for water only schools in this Education Gazette article.  

Local schools that have removed sugary drinks and become water (and milk) only have seen that it benefits teaching and learning as well as student health and wellbeing.  

“We have hydrated children; their brains are working because they are properly hydrated. Children drinking water regularly are alert and energetic.”
– Staff at Fairhaven School, Te Puke

Toi Te Ora Public Health’s Drinks in Schools report provides a snapshot of the availability of sugary drinks in schools and kura in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes District Health Board areas in 2016.

The report findings have been summarised in an infographic (free to download).  The infographic can be used to raise awareness of the availability of sugary drinks in schools while the guide ‘Make your school sugary drink free’ provides practical steps to remove sugary drinks and normalise water in your school.


If your school is ready to take steps to become water only, an alternative free resource, Guide to becoming a water and plain milk only school (below) may be useful.

A range of resources are available to support your school to become water only.

Resources for Boards of Trustees 

Consider how a water only policy in your school will benefit your students, their families and whānau:


Consider what the research says about parents’ views:

Read about schools that have adopted water only policies and are reaping the benefits:


Resources for Boards of Trustees and Principals

Contact us for further support with developing and implementing your policy.


Resources for Principals, Teachers and Students  

Use the resources below to raise awareness of the amount of sugar found in common sugary drinks, in drinks that are considered healthier choices, and in drinks commonly consumed by school aged children:

Choosing water instead of sugary drinks is an easy way to make a healthy change.  Water provides essential hydration that is sugar-free and virtually cost-free. This package of resources includes ways to promote water as the best drink:

Borrow this water dispenser and activity kit from Toi Te Ora to encourage and promote drinking water at events in your school: