Understanding the cultural aspects of health care will be easier for New Zealand dental students thanks to the formalisation of a relationship between Otago University and Tui Ora.
On February 17 the academic institution and the Taranaki health and social services provider will sign a Memorandum of Agreement.The agreement ensures students studying at Otago gain first hand experience of kaupapa Māori organisations, as well as helping facilitate research into Māori health issues.
Tui Ora has an existing relationship with the Otago Faculty of Dentistry, which has seen it supporting dental student placements in Taranaki for some years. The signing, which will take place at the Maratahu St complex in New Plymouth, further cements the relationship.
Ruth Smithers, Business Development and Corporate Services General Manager at Tui Ora says each cohort of students will spend five weeks in Taranaki. During their time, they take part in cultural events such as powhiri, visit marae and spend time with different staff and services. These range from primary care services like asthma and diabetes support to a physical health programme and early childhood workshops.
“This gives them a sense of the wrap-around or culturally centred care we provide.They understand that many factors feed into a person’s health and wellbeing, and it’s believed that participation will enhance their general cultural knowledge.”
Their time in the region also includes visits to dentists. New Plymouth dentist Chris Taylor has been instrumental in establishing the relationship and is a supporter of the programme.
As well as providing clinical and cultural opportunities for dental and other health science student placements, the MOA will see Tui Ora and the university working collaboratively on research projects that will benefit Māori.