“Centre Retains Blessing In Disguise”

The little brick church on Maunu Rd has been transformed with flair into a modern dental centre.

history_photoWhangarei’s newest dental rooms have been created out of what was the little brick church on Maunu Road.

With imagination and flair, Beverley van Melsem and David Stallworthy, advised by Anne Perkinson (a Whangarei interior designer) have built a modern dental centre while retaining much of the church feeling. Vaulted ceilings, painted by Michelle Brosnan of Paintworks, a charming Joce Ward stained glass window of St Apollonia, the patron saint of dentists, refurbished pew and monk’s settle all help create interest and atmosphere.


history_photo_2The large reception area, presided over by the smiling St Apollonia, and receptionists Alison, Jill, Donna and Sheryll, has wonderful polished rimu floors, the original tongue and groove half walls and a new, matching rimu reception area.

From this reception area, a wide, polished floor leads on to modern autoclave and sterilisation area and up-to-the-minute surgeries. There is also an X-ray area, recovery room for those who have general anaesthesia, office and staff areas.

All rooms have natural lighting and are decorated in creams, dark green and deep burgundy, contrasting beautifully with the polished rimu used elsewhere. The decor is both interesting and non-threatening, good news for those whose blood pressure goes up at the thought of dental visits.

history_photo_3The little church with its landmark steeple was built on land originally purchased for £73 pounds in the late 1930s for the Associated Churches of Christ. Various alterations were carried out on the original building over the years, and in 1946, the steeple and main entrance were removed completely from one side of the church and put up on the other.

In 1970 the land and building were sold to the Assembly of God Trust Board, and then later, in the early 1990s it was sold again and used as an upholstery workshop.

The latest sale saw the building completely gutted and redesigned for its new role.

“Oral Surgery To Be Catered For”

The vaulted ceiling painted by Michelle Brosnan is loosely modelled on the Sistine Chapel and is called Passing The Toothbrush.

history_photo_4Oral surgery will be a part of the work carried out at the Maunu dental rooms and a special recovery room has been created for this purpose.

Anaesthesia for this work will be carried out by the Maunu Anaesthetic Group. This group was set up several years ago to provide an anaesthetic service for some of the Whangarei dentists, so they could provide an alternative and efficient method of treatment for clients who did not necessarily qualify for treatment under the public health system.

The group’s services enabled dental surgeons to offer an increased range of treatments to their patients, including wisdom teeth extraction and dental clearances. Both these procedures, among others, occasionally prove difficult or impossible, without general anaesthesia. The group’s services have expanded to include sedation techniques which are now used increasingly by today’s anaesthetists.

General anaesthesia is different to sedation in that the patient is completely asleep. Conversely, sedation produces a relaxed state during which the patient can co-operate with the dentist during the procedure. Patients under sedation may later have little or no recollection of the treatment.

Acceptance of the sedation technique is often tentative, but many anxious patients benefit a great deal from the help it provides, and most are delighted that the dreaded trip to the dentist has passed so comfortably.

All anaesthetics are administered by a specialist anaesthetist and during the recovery phase patients are monitored by a trained recovery nurse in the clinic’s special recovery room. Anaesthetist Phillipa White will usually be available on Wednesday mornings, but occasionally lists can be arranged at other times.

“Skilled Dentist Runs Novel Surgery”

The Maunu surgery is owned by a highly-qualified dentist, David Stallworthy and 15 supporting staff.

david_photo_2David graduated from Otago University School of Dentistry in 1973 and worked first at Auckland Hospital for a year before spending a year in general practice in Auckland then two years in general practice in England.

In 1978 Ron Whatmough invited him to join his practice in James St, Whangarei, and because he was attracted by the Northland lifestyle with its wonderful opportunities for diving and boating, he accepted.

David regularly attends post-graduate training to keep up-to-date with new materials and techniques and can offer a wide range of dental services. He enjoys all aspects of general dentistry as well as the more specialised fields such as dental implant placements and oral surgery.

For over 25 years, in addition to working in his private practice, David has had a part-time appointment at Whangarei Area Hospital. Hospital dentistry is very varied, but most of the work in the weekly outpatients dental clinic and theatre session involves treatment of fractured jaws and other oral surgery.

Among the many advantages of this move to new premises in Maunu Rd he lists the improved access for people with disabilities and/or wheelchairs, easier parking, more efficient work spaces and the welcoming, relaxed atmosphere. It is also well set up for patients requiring sedation or anaesthesia.

David is married with three children. His wife Lynda is a science teacher at Whangarei Girls High School.

St Apollonia, the patron saint of dentists, was canonised in anno domini 249.

history_photo_3She was a christian living in Alexandria at a time when the non-believers were rioting against Christians and she was captured and tortured.

Her face was repeatedly and systematically beaten until all her teeth were broken but she refused to renounce her faith. Eventually her tormentors lit a bonfire and threatened to burn her to death unless she recanted.

She asked that her bonds be untied while she prayed and when they did this, she walked into the fire of her own accord. She died a martyr to her faith. Legend has it that before she died in the fire she called out that all those who suffered from toothache should invoke her name and they would be relieved of their suffering.

This stained glass window by local artist Joce Ward shows St Apollonia with a rather large pair of forceps but also with a palm leaf signifying victory.