Ferdinand parked up for a while
Residents of Bulls noticed that a flower van known as Ferdinand had not been doing business as usual at a local park for a couple of weeks.
The explanation was that the owner, Rene’e Mudgway, a New Zealand Defence Force Reservist dental hygienist, was taking part in an NZDF dental outreach in Hawke’s Bay.
Sergeant Mudgway, originally from Houhora, was part of a 30-member NZDF contingent that worked with the Hawke’s Bay DHB to raise oral health awareness in the region by providing education and treatment.
Exercise Wisdom Tooth also visited schools to teach children about the importance of good oral health.
“It was great to connect with the community. It was also great to catch up and work with other members of the NZDF’s health team,” Sergeant Mudgway said.
Enlisting in the military had been a leap of faith that led to a rewarding career, she said.
“Service life sounded like a good adventure, so my 17-yearold self took a chance,” she said.
Despite having two older sisters in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, she enlisted in the Army in 1998, a few months after graduating from Kaitaia College.
“I wanted to pave my own path, so I ticked the green box instead of the blue,” she said.
Initially she worked as a telecommunications operator, and was deployed to Bougainville and East Timor, but in 2004 she became a dental assistant and joined the Royal New Zealand Dental Corps. Three years later the Army supported her in pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in oral health from Otago University.
“I’ve had so many amazing opportunities during my career, from deployments to a trade change to three years at university.”
NZDF had also supported her and her husband, an RNZAF Reservist, in flexible work to balance their busy schedules.
Rene’e Mudgway, about to get to work in Hawke’s Bay.