Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister of Health
Opening of the new Child and Adolescent Community Dental Clinic
Papatoetoe North School, Mangere
Thursday 26 April 2012
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Tena koutou katoa,
Nga mihi ki a koutou no te waka o Tainui, ki a koe Whitiora (Cooper), Taui (Thompson) tena koutou mo te whakatau i tenei ata.
Kia a koutou o te Counties Manukau District Health Board, nga mihi
Ara hoki, ki te kura o Papatoetoe North, nga mihi ki a koe e Peter (Conroy-Principal), nga tamariki, aa nga whanau katoa kua huihui mai i te ra nei.
Thank you for welcoming me here today, and for allowing me the privilege of attending this blessing and opening ceremony.
It is an exciting day for this school, and the community of Papatoetoe, and I pleased that we have had an opportunity to celebrate the commitment and effort of all involved in improving the oral health of our rangatahi.
When I was at school, there was an old African-American spiritual that used to be sung by children throughout the land. It was called 'Dem bones' and it basically consisted of connecting the arm bone to the elbow bone to the shoulder bone to the neck bone to the head bone.
In essence that is what today is about.
We are connecting the jawbone to the gums and the teeth and to our total sense of wellbeing.
Those molars that sit within our mouth each day often go unnoticed - that is until we have the misfortune of toothache - and then we know all about it.
They say that the epitome of grumpiness is a bear with a sore tooth - the concept being that even the strongest and bravest of us all can be brought to tears by the impact of tooth decay.
This morning we are making a change for the better.
This is the ninth new hub clinic for Counties Manukau, and I would like to acknowledge the members of the DHB for their commitment to improving access to oral health services within your communities. This clinic is recognition that oral health is an important part of the overall health and wellbeing of our wh?nau.
I am delighted to be part of this opening, to announce that this clinic has been established to support a new generation of tamariki to ensure their dental needs will be met. This clinic alone will serve around three thousand children from this school, surrounding schools and pre-schools, and that is an amazing number of whanau who will be supported through initiatives such as this.
I want to go back to the 'dem bones' song. Because truth be known - for far too long our teeth have been treated as if they were completely separate from our bodies; and from the health of our families.
In the old days, children were marched off to a dental clinic, with the sound of drills scaring us all, and you just had to sit and bear it.
Today it's a completely different story. We're taught about things we can do to look after our teeth - brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, limiting sugary foods and drinks and regular checkups. We call all this prevention.
And we also have woken up to the importance of educating the whole family to know how to look after our health through diet, good oral health habits, and supporting one another to take care of our health.
So I am really pleased to hear that this clinic will be opened year round, meaning improved access for whanau, and relief for parents who will no longer need to track down the 'roving' dental therapists.
You will also have the mobile dental unit attached to this hub, which will visit other schools and marae in the area to examine the tamariki, and referring those requiring further treatment back to this hub clinic.
I am sure that all of you here today would agree that we want the best outcomes for our children, and healthier teeth is part of that vision of wellbeing.
The good news is that dental decay is largely preventable, and toothaches do not need to be a normal part of life.
This clinic here, will provide a means of ensuring your kids get the attention they need at an early age - which will put them on track for good oral health later in life.
Good oral health doesn't just affect your ability to chew, it can have huge impacts on self-esteem, quality of life, and of course on passing down good oral health habits to future generations. There is nothing more attractive than a great smile - it's a confidence booster for any occasion, but particularly when we're standing in line, waiting to be interviewed for the job of our dreams.
I am very pleased that we are giving these kids the opportunity to have the support they require from a young age.
The dental clinic is not the only support our tamariki need, our parents and whanau also need to support our kids to maintain good oral health routines at home.
There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child, and to support a aiga, it was Judge Ida Malosi who told me that - so it is important that we all work together to support the wellbeing of our tamariki.
I look forward to this clinic providing support to this community and whanau, so that we can all learn and develop together what it takes to maintain strong and healthy teeth.
I want to acknowledge those whanau who are here today, and those who led and participated in seeing this clinic established. The Counties Manukau DHB, the staff of the Auckland Regional Dental Service, the Principal of Papatoetoe North School, Peter Conway, and the Board of Trustees.
Of course, to the tamariki also, who continued to work through the noisy construction of this clinic, and will now have a special role in ensuring the success of its work.
Thank you for inviting me to be a part of this day, and for working with me to improve the oral health outcomes for our whanau and communities across Aotearoa.
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