In 2011 the Faculty of Dentistry of the University of Otago implemented a new program in which final-year dental students participate in a community-based placement with Māori oral health providers. The primary aim is to enhance students’ educational experience with the goal that, upon graduation, students are better prepared to engage with Māori people.
This program had its origins with the Tipu Ora Charitable Trust, a mother and child wellness service in Rotorua in 2000. In this initial program a small group of final-year dental students gave up a week of their mid-year break, paid their own travel expenses to Rotorua, and provided free dental treatment to the parents and caregivers of the Tipu Ora whānau (families). This student volunteer, Māori community-based service has grown significantly and is now incorporated into the undergraduate curriculum in which all final-year students have a five-week clinical placement with one of six Māori health providers throughout the country.