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NZ parties standing by anti-science candidates

New Zealand's major parties are standing by controversial candidates who shared anti-scientific views on fluoridation and vaccines.

Ryan Hamilton, the National party's candidate for Hamilton East, was outed as holding views outside of the scientific mainstream by a Radio NZ investigation released on Monday.

Mr Hamilton, a former councillor preselected in a seat National is likely to win, opposed fluoridation for two decades and mocked poor people.

In one post made in 2013, he said: "Get rid of fluoride. The poverty issue is redundant, most lower socio economics fill their tap water with raro so pull the other one."

Raro is a powdered orange-flavoured drink in New Zealand, similar to Tang in Australia, popular with Kiwis as a low-cost alternative to juice.

Mr Hamilton also opposed COVID-19 vaccine mandates and expressed doubt over the health response, saying data on fatalities during the pandemic "seems set up only to inflate the death numbers for the propaganda machine".

Deborah Rhodes, a Labour candidate ranked at 72 on the party's list, also had conspiratorial views revealed on Monday.

The dairy farmer and nurse from Golden Bay dismissed the efficacy of the HPV vaccine as recently as 2019, calling it "poison from big pharma" which sterilised boys and "altered DNA".

Unlike Mr Hamilton, who is likely to be an MP after the October 14 election, Ms Rhodes is ranked so lowly she has zero chance of entering parliament.

Still, the comments are a major embarrassment for both parties.

Speaking in Auckland on Monday, leader Chris Luxon called Mr Hamilton's Raro remarks "offensive".

"They were entirely inappropriate and he was wrong," he said.

Mr Luxon said the party knew about the comments before preselecting him, and was confident he had changed his views.

"If everyone's going (to be held to) their record of what they said 10 years ago, you won't have anyone going to parliament," Mr Luxon said.

Mr Hamilton has gone into hiding, denying media requests and instead issuing a statement to Radio NZ apologising for the "rash" Raro comment.

"I've opposed fluoridation in the past but now fully back National's position," the statement said.

"I am vaccinated against COVID-19 but as a Hamilton City councillor, I opposed mandates for entry to council facilities because I did not support this additional restriction."

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins called Mr Hamilton a "conspiracy theorist" who Mr Luxon should drop from his line-up.

"(Mr Luxon) set very high standards for others. Now it's a question of whether or not he's going to adhere to his own standards," he said.

"People are entitled to change their views on politics but generally speaking, I haven't found conspiracy theorists that willing to change their views."

Presented with Ms Rhodes' views during a press conference, Mr Hipkins could only say he was "happy to look into it".

Just as National did earlier on Monday, Labour later issued its own statement on behalf of Ms Rhodes, declaring her a changed woman.

"I've looked at the matter further and I no longer hold that view. I believe the (HPV) vaccine is safe and effective," she said.