'Quit the rambling and get to the point!' Rangatahi Māori call for better Covid-19 messaging

By D'Angelo Martin

Photo merge / Te Ao Māori News.

Rangatahi Māori are calling for the government to "Quit rambling and get to the point." 

Their comments are directed at the daily government update given by Health Minister Chris Hipkins, Health director-general Dr Ashley Bloomfield and/or Prime Minister Jacinda Adern who brief the nation on Covid-19 updates.

Waikato University's student union president, Kyla Campell, says "the messaging shared by the government on Covid 19 is too general and has no reassuring messages that target Māori communities. The press conferences are too long, I'd much rather the government just gets straight to the point and saves the pep talk."

Co-Tumuaki for Ngā Tauira Māori at Auckland University, Mihiterina Williams says "It's not that we're misinformed with the information provided, it's just that the messaging seems to cater to the general public without getting down the nitty-gritty."

Both Campbell and Williams say the government needs to provide more precise information on Covid-19 that will cater to rangatahi and resonate with Māori. They say a lack of information leaves rangatahi Māori confused and unsettled.

Political dialect

"For some it's easy to understand the messaging and they are already fluent in the dialect used by the government when briefing the nation, Campbell says. "We are not puppets. Politics has a dialect of its own, and the same goes with the Ministry of Health." 

Mihiterina Williams is concerned about students who live on campus in the university dorms and flats. "They are probably my biggest concern when it comes to being up to date with information on Covid-19. So it is up to us to have resources  to simplify what's being said." 

Williams says in light of the current dilemma, Ngā Tauira Māori has turned to social media as a resource to ensure  the right messaging has been getting to their students

"Our strategy may not cater for all rangatahi Māori, however, Ngā Tauira Māori is wanting to keep all our students in the loop. The way in which we shorten the messaging so it's easy for students to understand has really been the key to this strategy. And from there we use our social media platforms to share messages, via Instagram and Facebook."

Alert Level 4?

The anxiety and concern are bubbling within the younger generation whether or not the country will move into Alert level 4 lockdown again. "I'll be heartbroken and my heart will ache also for the nation which is still in recovery from the first level 4 lockdown, and for our rangatahi Māori and our elders," Campbell says.

"I'm really worried about what the future holds, whether or not we move back into level 4 lockdown because there's a chance that our Ngā Tauira Māori events will be cancelled or even disestablished. And I reject digital conversations like this to be the new norm." says Williams

Campbell says this generation has future leaders but they are also leaders who are needed for today as well. "Rangatahi Māori are very clever, we're already experts when it comes to the digital age. We know everything there is to know about the digital age, and how to properly examine what the government is stating. What gets me frustrated is the unnecessary wait for information they have around the way of getting to the specifics."