New community-centred oral health clinic

27 Mar, 2024
New community-centred oral health clinic
Oral Health staff: Chanae Ihimaera, Heuiwon (Chris) Han, Jacqui Smith, Beth Ketema, Farzana Sarkisova, Mariekris Suba, Rhose Anoy

Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences and AUT students and staff gathered on 23 February at the AUT South Campus for a blessing ceremony of a dedicated space repurposed as an oral health clinic for the community in South Auckland.

Blessing of Niho Ora ki Manukau

Kaumātua pāpā Martin Cooper of iwi, Waikato Tainui, led the blessing, which took place before dawn.

Around 15 Waikato Tainui local iwi members were present at the event, along with several distinguished guests.

These included Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brett Cowan; Head of the School of Clinical Sciences, Professor Judith McAra-Couper; Head of Vice-Chancellor's Office, Amy Malcolm; Assistant Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Māori Advancement, Dr Valance Smith, and Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences Associate Dean for Learning & Teaching, Professor Bill Ashraf.

The event was also attended by partners and guests from Te Ao Mārama Aotearoa Māori Dental Association, former AUT oral health students Leeann Waaka and Rehutai Tipene, NZ Oral Health Therapist Association President Anna Holyoake, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Dental Association Dr Mo Amso, Stand for Children's Services Tu Maia Whānau Jojo Lee and Willie Tuigamala, and Te Whatu Ora staff.

A memorial plaque honouring FHES’ late Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Fiona Brooks was unveiled at the clinic entrance, acknowledging Fiona’s service to public health.

Karen Lansdown, Head of Department, Oral Health and Kaumātua pāpā Martin Cooper of Waikato Tainui

“AUT oral health is grateful for the opportunity to address service access challenges within our community. Providing oral health care and education to our community is our top priority, reflecting the fundamental role of an oral health therapist. The oral health department looks forward to strengthening relationships with local iwi and the community to address and deliver meaningful oral health care.”

Karen Lansdown, Head of Department, Oral Health, School of Clinical Sciences

About Niho Ora ki Manukau

The Niho Ora ki Manukau dental clinic offers a range of oral health services for children and adults, including diagnosis, treatment, prevention and management of dental conditions. It aims to promote and educate the community about oral health, focusing on integrating it into overall well-being. For example, the clinic will work with the University of Otago to ensure wrap-around oral healthcare through referrals and collaboration.

The clinic is located at ME102 and has 19 dental chairs, a digital radiography room with 3D scanning, sterilisation rooms and a waiting area.

Third-year oral health student Tash Apiti-Pickup said, “This new space is exactly what we need for our Oral health department. This area in Auckland is in high need, being a low socioeconomic area; I feel this should help the community and my studies. Seeing the real need for oral healthcare.”

Classmate Heta Higgins agreed: “The new facility’s great firstly because of its location, and it's closer to the people who need the care.”

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