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Speech: Turia - Opening of Wairoa Community Dental Clinic

Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister of Health

11am.30am Tuesday 7 August 2012 SPEECH

Opening of the Wairoa Community Dental Clinic
Wairoa College, Black Street, Wairoa
Delivered by Sue Dasler on behalf of Minister Turia

Tena koutou katoa,

I want to mihi to Wairoa College, for hosting us here today – to the principal Brian Simpson, Gary Mayo (Board Chair) and the Board of Trustees, and of course our wonderful rangatahi.

I understand that just two weeks ago, Wairoa College took to the stage at Kensington Stadium in Whangarei for the kapa haka a motu.

This followed a star performance in the Hawkes Bay leg of the 2012 Stage Challenge where Wairoa College was placed third in the open division.

When I asked what was the ‘x factor’ behind the success of Wairoa College I was told it was very simple – it’s all about the ‘menemene’.

Menemene mai’ is the catchcry of the kaea encouraging her fellow performers to dazzle the crowd with their shining pearlers – the smile that puts stars in your eyes and captivates your attention. Today we extend that smile right across the community as we officially open this community dental clinic based here at Wairoa College.

It is a very wide smile indeed – I want to acknowledge the DHB Oral Health Service Reorientation Implementation Project Team, particularly Gavin Carey-Smith and Peter Hide, the project steering group for your efforts in getting so many key stakeholders on board.

And of course my hearty congratulations go to the staff of the oral health services who not to be outdone by the College have also achieved great success, winning the Supreme Award in the Hawkes Bay Health Awards Team of the year – tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

It is an exciting day for this College, and for the community of Wairoa, and I am delighted to be here to celebrate the commitment and effort of all involved in improving the oral health of our rangatahi within this rohe.

Today is a very important day to make connections - connecting our tamariki from around the rohe from school to school and from whanau to whanau; we are connecting our health to our education; and we are also contributing to connecting communities.

It is also time to make an urgent difference. In this rohe, the DHB has reported only 35 percent of five year old tamariki were free of decay compared to 65 percent of non-Māori five year olds. On average, five year olds in the Hawkes Bay have four out of their 20 primary teethe affected by decay. That is simply intolerable – that we are compromising healthy outcomes for our babies when they are so young.

So a focus on education, treating early decay and prevention must be our absolute priority.

This new clinic, is the eighth and last of the DHB’s new fixed site dental clinics to be opened under our oral health reinvestment programme.

The clinic will operate as the ‘hub’ clinic with two dental chairs providing full dental services, supported by mobile diagnostic and treatment units for our tamariki and rangatahi.

Around 2000 children from the wider region will have their dental needs addressed while sitting in those two chairs –including the tamariki of Te Kura Kaupapa, Wairoa College and Wairoa Primary, Tiaho, St Josephs, Frasertown, Waikaremoana, Mahia Peninsula, Kotemaori, Nuhaka and Mohaka alongside our babies from around the rohe who will also be using this dental clinic.

While this is a dental clinic first and foremost, our local organisations and services often end up being so much more than that to the community. They are a place to learn, a place to gather and a place to come together around our young ones.

I am really pleased that the services here will be supported by mobile clinics which will visit schools and marae across the rohe to provide diagnostic and treatment services Nobody will be left behind or forgotten.

I know a particularly important relationship is that which you have forged with Kahungunu Executive and with local Māori health providers. Community involvement is vital and the work of Kahungunu hauora educators to help get in touch with our so-called ‘hard-to-reach- whānau is particularly important.

By far the most significant relationship we celebrate today is the link made to every whānau of every child that enters this clinic.

Schools are often the beating heart of our communities. It is our children which draw us here in the first instance, but as parents and grandparents we extend our relationships around them to include teachers, their friends, their friends parents, other nannies and koroheke and so forth.

I’m really excited and proud that a Whānau Ora philosophy underpins the clinic so that all children’s appointments can be scheduled to suit the family. It sounds such a simple thing but actually it’s major. How it will work is that adults are encouraged to attend appointments with their tamariki and will receive advice about how we look after our niho – such as advice on healthy eating to support healthy teeth.

It absolutely blew me away to learn that children under 8 have the highest rates of admission for treatment under general anaesthetic.

And here’s a couple of other facts that sure take the smile away – did you know we consume more sugar per year in Aotearoa (a massive 55kg per person) than people in Australia; Britain or the United States?

Or that the amount of fizzy drink consumed doubled between the years 2000 and 2006.

As whānau this is where we can make a difference. It is actually so easy to do something– to replace Fanta with H2O; to encourage our tamariki to brush their teeth twice a day; to get into the habit of regular dental check-ups.

The key to change starts right here in Wairoa.

All the research tells us that oral health at age five predicts oral health in adulthood – so if we pick up the challenge now, we can prevent decay; retain our teeth; and in doing so, do so much to enhance self-confidence and good health.

As I look upon your young bright and smiley faces, I am reminded that today we are not only marking the beginning of something new, we are also marking the end to something else – the end of the Hawkes Bay DHB capital works programme. So to the DHB staff who have worked hard on this project I congratulate you on seeing this through to the end, and creating these wonderful resources in our communities.

Once again I would like to acknowledge the work and support given by each of you towards this project – I hope that your children will benefit for many years to come.

In closing I would like to remind us all that today is about more than just our teeth, it is about our total wellbeing. It is a celebration of the things which bring us together as a community, the health and wellbeing of our rangatahi, and of course nurturing the next generation of leaders.

And that’s something that can make us all live up to the promise – Menemene mai!

Tena koutou katoa

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