Tooth-conscious mokopuna 'E Whakahāmana…Te Wero Oranga-ā-Waha' to win oral health challenge | Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand | Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty

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Tooth-conscious mokopuna 'E Whakahāmana…Te Wero Oranga-ā-Waha' to win oral health challenge

28 February 2020

The mokopuna and whānau of Te Kōhanga Reo o Maketū Kōkiri (Maketū) have triumphed in a Western Bay of Plenty oral health challenge.

Tooth-conscious mokopuna 'E Whakahāmana…Te Wero Oranga-ā-Waha' to win oral health challenge
staff and children at Te Kōhanga Reo o Maketū Kōkiri (Maketū) celebrate winning the Western Bay of Plenty oral health challenge. 

Kōhanga Reo from across the Western Bay were invited to enter the annual challenge, run by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board's (BOPDHB) Oral Health Promotion team, which looks at initiatives employed by Kōhanga Reo to inspire tamariki and their whānau towards greater oral health awareness and practice.

To embrace the use of Te Reo Māori, which is a central practice within Kōhanga Reo and Puna Reo early learning services, the challenge and the entries were written and submitted in Te Reo Māori.

The staff of Te Kōhanga Reo o Maketū Kōkiri engaged in lots of activities to get its 13 pre-schoolers thinking about their oral health and simultaneously incorporated areas of the curriculum.

"We covered off numeracy, literacy and co-ordination of skills all through referencing teeth," said Maketū Kōhanga Reo Kaiako Bella Rapana. "We tried to keep it as fun as possible, I lose them otherwise," she laughed.

"We wrote a song to teach the children how to brush their teeth properly and get a beautiful smile; we had them identify good and bad foods; cut and pasted pictures of teeth; planted lemon, lime and feijoa trees in the Kohanga garden; took them down to the Community Garden and taught them to identify different vegetables; made little notebooks to take home and tick off that they had brushed their teeth properly each day; and we also went on a visit to see a Dental Therapist at Te Akau Hauora in Pāpāmoa to experience a dentist trip and normalise it so they wouldn't be afraid. They were all quite proud of themselves about that."

The theme for the Western Bay of Plenty Te Wero Oranga-ā-Waha challenge was "E whakahāmama…Te Wero Oranga-ā-Waha" ("Say Ahhhh…Act on Mouth Health"). The message behind the theme was a motivational one for individuals to take charge of their own oral health, by taking specific action to prevent oral disease and safeguard their overall health.

21 Western Bay Kohanga Reo/Puna Reo participated in the challenge. The final results were: 

1st:  Kōhanga Reo o Maketū Kōkiri (Maketū)

2nd: Te Kōhanga Reo o Ōpopoti (Maungatapu)

3rd:  Te Kōhanga Reo o Te Akau (Pāpāmoa)

Prizes included a big box of fruit and vegetables, water bottles, toothbrushes, toothpaste, certificates and laminated activities books.

BOPDHB Oral Health Promoter Zirsha Wharemate congratulated the winners and said the promotion had included activities such as teaching the tamariki about teeth health and wellbeing through various creative learning activities.

"Good oral health is an important part of general health," she added. "He mihi nui ki ngā Kaimahi me ngā whānau o ngā Kōhanga Reo me ngā Puna Reo hoki mo to koutou tautoko o tēnei kaupapa nui."

Zirsha also thanked those that helped with the judging, who included: Kura Martin (Kōhanga National Trust); Barbara Laing, Jane Grierson, Terri Cook (Te Manu Toroa Dental Team); and Aroha Tito (Ngāti Ranginui Iwi Society Inc).