Te Manu Toroa

Community Service Learning placement

In 2010, Te Manu Toroa became a provider for whānau ora which aimed to support and empower whānau across New Zealand as a whole rather than following a ‘one size fits all approach’.

Te Manu Toroa have a vision that Māori in the Western Bay of Plenty be healthy, confident, empowered and contributing to their communities,  kia tū pakari, tū maia hei potokomanawa mō te iwi (to be strong and courageous as people), and it has been my absolute pleasure to work alongside the staff there to achieve this.

At present, I am a fifth year Bachelor of Dental Surgery with Honours undergraduate currently undertaking my Community Service Learning (CSL) placement in Tauranga with Te Manu Toroa Health Trust, a primary healthcare service. The mission of Te Manu Toroa is to provide comprehensive and intergrated healthcare for people of the Western Bay of Plenty, kia whakarite ai he kaupapa orange mō ngā iwi o te hauauru. 

Troubling health statistics of Māori in the rohe meant establishing general practice clinics has been a priority.

I would like to acknowledge the University of Otago Faculty of Dentistry for arranging my Community Service Learning placement and MAS for affording me the experience without financial limitations. I would also like to acknowledge Te Manu Toroa and the staff who made my time there such a memorable and enjoyable experience.


Additional services were developed by Te Manu Toroa to further meet the needs of their people including dental services, mental health services, Tamariki Ora, rangatahi health and wellbeing, rangatahi youth suicide prevention, the mobile Māori disease state management nursing service, diabetes services, respiratory services, and vision and hearing services. Te Manu Toroa is also one of the nine Māori health and social service providers which formed Ngā Mātaapuna Oranga Primary Health Organisation (NMOPHO) in 2005.

They provide services such as addiction services, caregiving, community-based tikanga programmes, counselling, dental services, driver licensing, general practice services, health promotion, home support, kaumātua programmes, kaupapa Māori ante natal care, dual diagnosis, mental health services, nursing, nutrition services, mobile primary health, outreach immunisation, rangatahi programmes, sexual health services, Tamariki Ora and whānau programmes.


Upon arriving at Te Manu Toroa, a whakatau, a traditional Māori  welcome conducted off the marae, was organised for our first day. As part of te taenga (arrival), we took our seats in our groups and tangata whenua greeted us with karakia and mihi. Physical contact was then made to lift ceremonial tapu through hongi and harirū. After this we were encouraged to all share our pepeha and kai was had to completed the whakatau process.

Tasha Paul 1

During the days and weeks following, I both observed and contributed to the provision community services. As it was the school holidays for the first two weeks of placement, during this time the mobile dental clinic wasn’t running and we were instead scheduled to shadow the different clinicians at Te Manu Toroa to understand the services they provide.

I had my first day with the koro kaimahi at Tamariki Ora, a Free Well Child service. Together we visited whānau to ask how their pēpi are growing and these visits also included support staff providing advice on nutrition, sleep and parenting.

The following day I was with the Respiratory Nurse Service which provides intervention, treatment and management services to tamariki, rangatahi and pākeke with asthma and other respiratory conditions. Given the opportunity, I was able to educate a number of these patients on improving their oral hygiene.

Later in the week, I spent some time with Mental Health Services. The team works from a holistic point of view to incorporate whānau and provide support to those who have concerns about their tamariki or rangatahi. Services provided can include mental health nursing, counselling, social support and youth programmes, youth health drop-in centres, and alcohol and drug services.

Aubrey from the Mental Health Services team then took us for a boxing class. It is well known physical activity and exercise are associated with better mental health, and that physical activity is a health behavior suggested to prevent and treat a number of mental health problems.

The physical activity itself may be multi-faceted and can include a wide range of sports and light-intensity activity. I found boxing to be incredibly fun and my short experience with it at Te Manu Toroa has spurred an interest in the sport.

Tasha Paul 2
Tasha Paul 4

On Wednesday the 17th, Rangatahi Whānau Fun Day was held at Moore Park in Katikati. There was a free sausage sizzle, games and activities, live performances, prize giveaways, community services, bouncy castle and even a merry-go-round.

Te Manu Toroa had their own stall and were giving away pamphlets on various health topics such as immunisations and healthy eating. We set up a small table of blocks and encouraged children to build towers as they passed by to win prizes and at the same time improve their cognitive function.

As the day went on I had the opportunity to visit the other stalls. There was an oral health stall displaying the sugar content in a number of different drinks and their volunteers were giving out free toothbrushes. I also had the opportunity to learn more about the New Zealand Defence Force and the role a dental officer can play in their environment.

After the school holidays had finished, we were able to begin providing dental services to tamariki and rangatahi. Te Waka Niho, a mobile dental unit operated by Te Manu Toroa, was first stationed at Te Wharekura O Mauao in Bethlehem.

We provided clinical dental services such as conducting caries risk assessments, giving oral hygiene instruction, removing decay and restoring teeth, scaling and polishing, applying fluoride to at-risk teeth, and providing children with toothbrushes, floss and toothpaste.

Caries is a common childhood disease impacting quality of life and its progression and consequences can be reduced by preventive dental practices and early intervention strategies at public and individual levels.

It has been an incredibly rewarding experience thus far to work with Te Manu Toroa to provide such clinical services.

Tasha Paul 3

Many thanks again to MAS for the Dental Elective Scholarship. It continues to go towards enriching personal experiences through meeting new people, developing my dental skills and making the most of the every opportunity afforded to me, many of which can only be made possible by this scholarship.

The scholarship further goes towards allowing me to experience more of the Māori lifestyle I have been and will continue to be exposed to with Te Manu Toroa Health Trust as encouraged by the Faculty of Dentistry, and I am excited to participate in engaging activities.

The CSL placement not only provides a community health experience but an opportunity to see more of the country; the MAS Elective scholarship has so far contributed to travel around Tauranga and allowed me to see and do more things.

MAS Dental Elective Scholarship Recipient

Tasha Paul

Tasha Paul is in her fifth year of a Bachelor of Dental Surgery with Honours at Otago University. Tasha is our first recipient of the MAS Dental Elective Scholarship. She received $500 towards her Community Service Learning (CSL) placement in Tauranga with Te Manu Toroa Health Trust.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.