By Te Karere


Wairoa residents are getting a late Christmas present as a free dental clinic opens its doors in the small east coast town.

Ngāti Pahauwera Development Trust has been working with Lumino Dentists to provide services to those that can't afford it.

Numbers show 54% of New Zealanders don’t go for a yearly check-up unless it’s serious.

The program is in its fourth year and last year they performed around $45,000 worth of care to locals.

Ngāti Pahauwera chairperson Toro Waaka says the program has been invaluable as more residents learn about good dental hygiene.

"Wairoa is a very low-income area. In particular, people like solo mothers, solo parents, they neglect their own health for their children, their own dental health. So this gives them an opportunity to do a bit of a tidy and maybe they get encouraged into better dental health care."

Waaka says there is a possibility to extend the free dental clinic to other low socio-economic communities in the Hawke’s Bay region.