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MNZM honour to champion for the underdog

Arish Naresh arrived in New Zealand from Fiji when he was 21 with a bag of clothes and $70 in his pocket.

He would like his Queen’s Birthday honour for 2020 to inspire other young migrants.

On arriving in the country 13 years ago, his only thought was getting a job.

“But I never thought this would happen.”

Dr Naresh, a champion for the underdog, has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to the community and dentistry.

If ever there was an award that should go to a community, this was it, he said.

“It takes a village to raise a child and in my case, Tairawhiti was the village that gave me everything I needed.”

He had had huge support from the Tairawhiti community, he said.

“Our lives are more than our professional careers.”

To become truly part of the fabric of a community, and not just working for a pay cheque, is something he recommends everyone to aspire to.

Dr Naresh is the president of the Tairawhiti Multicultural Council and the International Oral Health Association, and chairman of the NZ Dental and Oral Health Therapists Association.

He has held positions in management in the field of oral health for the past 11 years.

Dr Naresh was awarded an honorary PHD in Leadership this year for his services to the community.

He continues to champion for the breakdown of social barriers like poverty and racial stereotyping, so that everyone, no matter what their background is, can achieve their dreams.

He loves seeing other people succeed, as well as batting for their success, especially those who are disadvantaged in the health system or community.

Dr Naresh has a contract at the Royal Adelaide Hospital as programme director for specialty medicine.

He returns once a month to Gisborne, which he describes as his place of solace. He can’t wait to get back home and says he owes a lot to the people here who have supported him.

When he received the email to confirm he had been awarded an MNZM, Dr Naresh said his reaction was surprise.

”I was very pleased at the same time. I don’t do what I do for the accolades but was humbled people had nominated me.”

RECOGNISED FOR HIS WORK: Dr Arish Naresh is a community champion who has worked hard to breakdown social barriers like poverty and racial stereotyping so everyone, no matter what their background, can achieve their dreams. His ongoing efforts have been recognised with an MNZM for services to the community and dentistry. File picture