An oral health book aimed at Te Tai Tokerau tamariki (children), was launched on June 3, eight years after the project began.

The book, titled ‘Te Pukapuka Oranga Niho’ (The Oral Health book) has been prepared specifically for use in Kohanga Reo and Early Childhood Centres.

A launch ceremony was held at Te Hiku Hauora, where representatives of Kohanga Reo from within Te Tai Tokerau were presented with their own copy of the book.

Also in attendance were the members of Te Roopu Wahaora, the group behind the initiative.

Te Wahaora (‘Mouth Health’) is comprised of oral health promoters from within Te Tai Tokerau.

Members include Shareen Ali (NDHB), Isabelle Cherrington (Ngati Hine Health Trust), Helen Foley (Whangaroa Health Services), Tina Quitta (Hokianga Health) and Sonya Butters and Anahera Tripp (Te Hiku Hauora).

The group meet every two months in Kerikeri, to discuss oral health matters and at a meeting in 2007 began their ambitious book project.

Shareen Ali says there has been a request for this pukapuka (book) for some time, adding that there are a lot of resources out there on other health topics, with oral health often being overlooked.

“Having only six oral health care workers covering this large region, who do not all work full time, makes keeping the messages out there very difficult.

“Our dental health messages can now be spread, whether we are available or not”

The main objectives behind the book were to keep it simple, targeted at tamariki, and provide a guideline where users of the book could implement the dialect of their own area.

Te Waharoa worked for two years on paper drafts, sharing these with kohanga reo centres, to see what worked, and what didn’t.

The finished book contains three sections; how to brush properly, eating healthily and visiting the dentist.

There is a waiata, especially written for each section of the book, to add extra appeal for the tamariki

“To foster our reo, especially in our children, is very important” says Isabelle Cherrington.

“I hope our tamariki enjoy the pukapuka as much as we do.”