Graduating dental surgeon proud of Maori heritage

Rob Mane
Rob Mane
Many people might feel out of their depth if they encountered someone with  facial injuries, but University of Otago graduate Rob Mane loves helping to make a life-changing difference for such patients.

Dr Mane already has an Otago bachelor of dental surgery degree (BDS), and today will graduate from the University of Otago in absentia with MBChB medical qualifications.

Dr  Mane is continuing his training towards becoming the University of Otago’s and New Zealand’s first Maori maxillofacial surgeon.

"It’s something I’m proud of," he said of his medical qualifications.

But he takes his growing academic success in his stride, and said his parents, John and Mary Mane, and other family members had helped keep him grounded.

"I really don’t think I’m anything special," he added.

Dr Mane, of Ngapuhi descent, says he is "grateful for the opportunities" and help he received at Otago University.

He is already working hard at Waikato Hospital as part of what he envisages will be six years of further training to become a maxillofacial surgeon.

After he had gained his BDS, he  found it was "an absolutely fantastic job" being a maxillofacial house surgeon working with facial injuries at Dunedin Hospital, as part of a team led by maxillofacial consultants.

"I do find it satisfying that we’re able to make a difference in acute facial injury because the face is what most of us look at in society and even a slight difference, such as a scar on the nose, may be quite disheartening.

"Few worry about a big scar on the arm but everyone worries about a small scar on the face."

He will be, today,  among a historically big new wave of Maori health professionals to graduate from Otago University on a single day.A total of 76 Maori health professional graduands will cross the Dunedin Town Hall stage, the largest cohort of Maori health professionals to graduate from Otago on one day.

The group includes 40 Maori doctors, 13 physiotherapists and five pharmacists.

Also,  seven Maori dentists, five oral health graduates and two doctors of clinical dentistry will also graduate.

Dr Mane said that having more Maori in the health field was "a step towards trying to reduce the health disparity within Maori compared to other populations".

He hoped this would result in an improvement in Maori and New Zealand health overall.

Dr Abbey Corbett, of Ngapuhi descent, is the country’s first Maori student to obtain a doctor of clinical dentistry degree in paediatric dentistry, and is "excited" to be graduating.

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