The history of NZOHA

Below is an outline of the history of the formation of NZOHA

As NZOHA was formed by what was the NZDOHTA and NZDHA, we have included a brief history on each of these associations.

History of NZDOHTA

The first dental therapy association was formed in Aotearoa New Zealand in 1935 and was known as the New Zealand State Dental Nurses’ Institute.

In 1995 members voted to create a new structure and to rename their organisation the New Zealand Dental Therapists’ Association (NZDTA). These changes were made in response to a changing industrial climate, an increasingly decentralised health service and to recognise that the NZDTA was the only national organisation representing dental therapists on professional issues.

The organisation had continued to evolve in response to the ever-changing professional environment in which it operates. To best reflect its position and role in the oral health profession the NZDTA was renamed the New Zealand Dental and Oral Health Therapists’ Association in 2012.

We'd like to recognise the NZDOHTA Life Members

History of NZDHA

While the New Zealand Army had trained dental hygienists from 1974, the first course for civilian dental hygienists only began in 1994. With the exception of a dental therapy course at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT), from 1999, education for dentists, dental therapists, dental hygienists and dental technicians, was centralised at the University of Otago in Dunedin.

The NZ Dental Hygienists’ Association was formed in 1993 with the purpose of advocating for the professional development of dental hygienists in Aotearoa New Zealand.

We'd like to recognise the NZDHA Life Members

We acknowledge Jiljane Delany with a special award for Outstanding Commitment & Service To The New Zealand Dental Hygienists’ Association

Evolution of dental therapy and dental hygiene to oral health therapy

Prior to November 2017, graduates of oral health therapy programmes, now known formally as oral health therapists under the Health Professionals Competence Assurance Act (HPCAA) in Aotearoa New Zealand, had to be simultaneously registered as both a dental therapist and a dental hygienist after completing the prescribed oral health qualification(s). Currently there are two accredited courses offered in Aotearoa New Zealand that allow graduates to register with Te Kaunihera Tiaki Niho – the Dental Council of New Zealand (DCNZ) in the scope of oral health therapy. These courses are run by the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and the University of Otago at the Faculty of Dentistry in Dunedin. The first cohorts of the AUT Bachelor of Health Science (Oral Health) and University of Otago Bachelor of Oral Health programmes graduated in 2008 and 2009 respectively.

Steps undertaken to create the New Zealand Oral Health Association

Minutes from NZDHA Annual General Meeting

Saturday 8th July 2017

3. New Association

The NZDHA Executive informed all present that they will investigate a new association with NZDOHTA. It is not voting o have a new association today but to investigate and will provide feedback/updates when required. Discussion was had around NZDHA starting a Steering Group New Association Committee with NZDOHTA. All were in agreement for this to be investigated and implemented. 

For: All
Against: None
Abstain: None

Motion carried

Minutes from NZDOHTA Annual General Meeting

Saturday 8th July 2017

The NZDOHTA Board informed members of starting a steering group at their 2017 AGM. All members present were in agreement to investigate and implement this. 

Background on the creation of NZOHA

September 2019

In 2017 (and then again, in 2019), a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between NZDHA and NZDOHTA (the two national organisations representing Dental Hygienists, Dental and Oral Health Therapists) with its objective being "to investigate the establishment of one overarching national body to be called NZOHA (New Zealand Oral Health Association)."

The rationale for the establishment of one organisation was as follows:

  • To reduce duplication of effort currently occurring with NZDHA and NZDOHTA

  • To reduce duplication of administration costs 

  • To reduce duplication of cost and time commitments for members

  • To overcome the dilution of impact that exists when operating as two distinct and discrete associations

  • To remove confusion regarding which organisation an emerging professional with a Bachelors degree in Oral Health should join.  

  • To create a stronger voice as a united professional body for lobbying and having ‘a voice at the table’. 

  • To better align the professional body with the emerging practitioners coming from tertiary institutions.

  • To create stronger branches and stronger regions.

  • To better align with the Ministry of Health strategy for integrated service delivery.

In line with that Memorandum of Understanding, an Executive Committee was formed to oversee, manage and coordinate the next steps. 

In April 2019, the Committee agreed to a proposed structure for the new association.

In May 2019 we sought the feedback of members of the respective associations to understand what your opinions were on the proposed structure.   Thank you to the 400 people who stepped up to have their say!

The survey closed on 31 May, and the Committee is meeting in late July to review the feedback and to identify and decide on our next steps.  

Update on the Formation of New Zealand Oral Health Association (NZOHA)

30 April 2021

It is with great pleasure and excitement that the NZDOHTA and the NZDHA advise all members that discussion and action to the formation of the NZOHA has recommenced after being abruptly stopped in 2019. 

Both Board and Executive are aiming to launch the NZOHA in 2022.  

One association will unify our profession. The NZOHA will be all encompassing of Dental Therapy, Dental Hygiene and Oral Health Therapy. As one association, we will have a bigger and louder voice to advocate for our profession for better oral health outcomes in Aotearoa. 

Updates on the progression will be emailed to the members of the NZDOHTA and the NZDHA. 

Not a member? Make sure you are! You need to have a voice for this historical movement for our professions.  

So get excited. The NZOHA is coming soon!

Thank you
NZOHA Committee

Results from the NZDOHTA and NZDHA Special General Meetings

4th September 2021

You said yes!

Thank you to everyone who attended the NZDOHTA and the NZDHA Special General Meetings this morning. It was wonderful to see so many of you join the meetings and have your say - thank you. 

We are excited to let you know that the vote on the motions to wind up the NZDOHTA and the NZDHA and move forward with creating the NZOHA was YES. 

What's next?

Over the coming weeks the NZOHA Committee will be working on the logistics of winding up the two existing associations and setting up NZOHA. This includes:

  • Defining roles and responsibilities 

  • Creating the NZOHA standards

  • Finalising the financial accounts of the NZDOHTA and the NZDHA, including independent reviews of the accounts

  • Merging bank accounts

  • Transferring all members into the NZOHA database

  • Creating the new legal entity for the NZOHA

  • Updating the public NZOHA website

  • Starting work on the NZOHA members app and website

We will continue to keep you updated on progress as we go, so keep an eye on your inbox. You can also contact us at if you have any questions. 

Ngā mihi nui

The NZOHA Committee
Anna, Nafiz, Sam, Erin, Mel, Lizelle, Chris, Anishma, Viktoria and Toni

Incorporation of Te Ohu Pūniho Ora O Aotearoa, New Zealand Oral Health Association

17th November 2021

Te Ohu Pūniho Ora O Aotearoa - The New Zealand Oral Health Association is now an Incorporated Society.

This is a significant milestone in setting up the NZOHA! We are excited to reach it, and share this news with you. 

Now that the NZOHA is a legal entity, we can apply for a GST number and finalise our new bank accounts to continue moving forward.

Ngā mihi nui

The NZOHA Committee
Anna, Nafiz, Sam, Erin, Mel, Lizelle, Chris, Anishma, Viktoria and Toni


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