Te Roopu Maori - 13

There is a considerable amount of evidence that Maori do not have the same level of oral health as non-Maori across all age groups. Oral health disparities such as access to care exist, and one way to address ethnic inequalities in NZ is through Maori oral health workforce development.

The first Maori to qualify in the dental sphere was Perle Taiaroa, who became a school dental nurse in 1926. Continuing her pilgrimage are a small but mighty number of Maori dental therapists, hygienists, and technicians. The first Maori dentist was Walter Morete, who obtained his Bachelor of Dental Surgery in 1928. It wasn’t until 1974 that the first Maori dental specialist, Albert Kewene, graduated in Periodontics. According to DCNZ Workforce Analysis there are currently 40 Maori dentists registered with the Dental Council of New Zealand, representing only two percent of all active dentists.
Nga Mokai o Nga Whetu was established in May 2007, with the purpose of increasing the recruitment, participation, development, and success of all Maori dental students. We currently have around 20 Maori undergraduate students enrolled at the School of Dentistry, of which nearly half are active participating members. Through the development of our association we hope to promote oranga niho (oral health) among Maori and encourage young Maori to enter dental tertiary courses, with provision of support during study and beyond.
We encourage and support our members to attend the annual conference of Te Ao Marama, the NZ Maori Dental Association, and endeavour to make our appearance at this particular Hui an expected occurrence. This year we met inspirational people such as Minister Tariana Turia and Doctor Albert Kewene.
With support from Te Roopu Maori we also subsidise the cost of our members undertaking clinical placements with Tipu Ora (Rotorua and Ngati Hine), Taranaki, and Raukura Hauora o Tainui. For Te Wiki O Te Reo (Maori Language Week), Nga Mokai will endeavour to present relevant educational resources to staff, patients, and students of the Dental School. We are currently developing a Memorandum of Understanding and Mentoring Programme with Te Ao Marama. In addition, we are investigating the feasibility of incorporating University of Auckland dental therapy students within the Nga Mokai roopu.
Nga Mokai will endeavour to continue to evolve and be relevant to our dental students. If you would like to be a part of our vision please email us at ngamokai@otago.ac.nz. We would especially love to hear from any Bachelor of Oral Health and dental technician students. 
Naku Noa, Nga Mokai executive:
Tumuaki Joy Tahere
Secretary Abbey Corbett
Treasurer Rachael Evans 
BDS Rep Nick Stretton 
Posted 8:05pm Sunday 11th July 2010 by Critic.