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.
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.
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.