Empowering the under-served in our own backyard



The Trinity Koha Dental Clinic (TKDC) brings mobile dental clinics to underserved New Zealand communities to help relieve urgent oral health needs. This is YSA’s response to our obligation to our own community here in New Zealand. We cannot sit back and wait for the government to solve the issue of oral health in our communities. Now is the time for us to act. Together we can meet the needs of our own people. Together we can empower a healthy future right here in Aotearoa New Zealand.

TKDC is a collaboration between YSA and our platinum partner, Trinity Lands Limited along with many other groups and individuals. We partner with regional dental associations, businesses, NZ registered dentists, local health providers and community groups. Working together, we meet the emergency oral needs of our community while also educating people on how to better care for their teeth. 

Volunteerism is a key driver of the TKDC. We are able to deliver the koha-based services because of an army of volunteers who give their time and talents with no expectation of remuneration. As kiwis, we are at our best when we give of ourselves to help others. 


YSA was catalysed out of the extravagant gift, in 2019, of a 48m container vessel from Stoney Creek Shipping, the MV YWAM KOHA. When COVID restrictions destroyed our 2020 plans, the YSA board revisited our purpose and mission. Out of this came a desire to operate in our primary focus of empowering a healthy future for the Pacific, within our own nation. Instead of focusing on what we couldn’t do, the board looked at what we could do. The conclusion of this process was to place our dental container on a truck and use it on land. Out of questions of who needs our help and where could we go, the five-week pilot programme for TKDC was birthed.  

It is fair to say that the oral health needs we found far surpassed our capacity to deliver. Within days in each location, all appointments were filled. One patient in Western BOP was in so much pain that he had already pulled out several of his own teeth. The dentist that day extracted five more untreatable teeth. At the same clinic, a father arrived with his young son. They had waited six months for treatment of a septic tooth but to no avail. The team rushed the young boy into the dental container, and the dentist was able to give instant relief from the baby tooth that had rotted in his mouth.

It is stories like these, and the many examples of needless suffering we have seen that have been instrumental in our decision to continue with the Trinity Koha Dental Clinics. 

YWAM Ships Aotearoa (YSA) is driven to empowering a healthy future for all of the Pacific. We believe all people have value, worth and purpose, and should have access to the basic necessities of life. 

Where access to these basic necessities does not exist, we are obligated to act. Our communities and our region is our responsibility. 


The ongoing success of these clinics is dependent on three things coming together:

  1. The clinics are only successful when there is a partnership between YSA and a local health provider that is connected to the needs within their own community. If you want to partner with us and invite us to your community, we want to hear from you.
  2. Services can only be provided when we have financial support to purchase the equipment needed. If you want to financially partner with us to deliver these clinics, we look forward to hearing from you
  3. The greatest hindrance to providing these services is the availability of New Zealand registered dentists, assistants and hygienists. We are grateful for those in the dental community who have volunteered their skills. We look forward to seeing many more offer the expertise to meet the great need in our communities.

Empowering A Healthy Future in New Zealand

The central mission of YSA is to use our vessel, the m/v YWAM KOHA, to deliver medical and dental services in the Pacific Islands. Yet from the beginning, we have held an aspirational goal to empower heath right here in Aotearoa. We have become increasingly aware of health inequities in Aotearoa, particularly amongst Maori and migrant communities. We want to make a difference in our own backyard.

KOHA Dental Programme

The Trinity Koha Dental Clinic is designed to provide essential dental treatment to those unable to receive the help they need. We believe that a New Zealand-based dental service will further our organisational goals by supporting communities in Aotearoa who currently have little access to oral health services at affordable prices.

Beginning in June 2021, we are running a five-week pilot programme here in the Bay of Plenty. We are finalising the details, but from 31 May to 2 July, we are looking to work in Welcome Bay, Te Puke and Kawerau. These dental clinics will run in collaboration with health providers who are already engaged with their communities. 

As a step towards a healthy Pacific, we expect this five-week programme to begin empowering healthy communities by providing essential dentistry to hundreds of patients. 


Proposed Dates:  31 May - 2 July

Location: Welcome Bay, Te Puke, Kawerau

As we partner together with local health providers, certified volunteer dentists and key stakeholders, we can empower a healthy future in communities right here in our own region. Would you take this opportunity to give back to your community by volunteering for a day or more?