Health innovations as far ranging as weaving concepts of Maori deities into physical exercise programmes to pulling the New Zealand Defence Force into pulling teeth in the Far North were toasted at the Northland Health and Social Innovation Awards.

Hundreds of individuals and teams of professionals and administrators working for Northland District Health Board (NDHB), NorthAble and Te Tai Tokerau and Manaia Primary Health Organisations were recognised at the biennial awards on Saturday in Whangarei.

The winner of the Cedric Kelly Supreme Award went to pharmacist Kay Lengyel for leading the development and improvements of the health board's cancer and blood service. Ms Lengyel had earlier received the award for Improving Health and Safety.

As much as clinical innovation and outcomes, the awards focused on various health sectors' training and professional standards, from basic to advanced levels, and meeting needs in culturally appropriate ways in communities, homes, clinics and hospitals.

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The five Hauora categories covered the concepts of Tangata i te Tuatahi (People First), Whakaute (Respect), Manaaki (Caring), Whakawhitiwhiti Korero (Communication), Matariki Hauora Rangatira (Bright Star), with the Taumata Teitei (Service to Excellence Supreme Award).

District court Judge Greg Davis was guest speaker, delivering a speech about Northland's grim crime and imprisonment statistics, particularly among young Maori men.

Saying health and justice system outcomes were interlinked, Judge Davis stressed the need for healthier families in physical, educational and achievement terms.

Among award winners was the Far North Safer Communities Council for its crime prevention project, with team leader Constable Rowena Jones from the Kaitaia Neighbourhood Police Team also winning the award for Best Contribution to Social Good (by an individual).

Joining the uniformed sector as a contributor to Northland's health, the NZ Defence Force won the Collaboration Award for Exercise Wisdom Tooth, a partnership with Defence Force and health board personnel delivering dental health in a two week long exercise based out of Kaitaia Hospital.

Targeting low income adults, the free service packed in 750 consultations and more than 2000 dental treatments.