By Māni Dunlop of RNZ
A Māori students association says the Government has been too general in its messaging and they are having to take matters into their own hands to ensure their tauira are informed.
The Government has been criticised for failing to reach communities - especially young people - with further questions being raised about the instructions given to whānau and messages around virus precautions and prevention, after reports of confusion among those linked to the Papatoetoe High School cluster.
Ngā Tauira Māori o Tāmaki Makaurau at the University of Auckland has been ensuring the right messaging has been getting to their students - as well as checking in on them regularly.
Co-tumuaki Mihiterina Williams (Ngāti Konohi, Te Whakatōhea and Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti) says the Government messaging has not been targeted - therefore Ngā Tauira run their own communications.
"A lot of what they [the Government] are saying is very general, they talk to Tāmaki Makaurau, as one, and talk to Aotearoa whānui, as one, there isn't any specific reassuring kōrero that is targeting our communities who feel this lockdown a lot more than others and that is definitely also portrayed through the comms in the university," Williams said.
She said, like many, they get their information through social media - and although she acknowledges the Government's work in terms of the Covid-19 response, there are downfalls with how they are reaching certain hapori.
Ngā Tauira Māori o Tāmaki Makaurau has been tailoring messaging to their students.
"That is something we have learned, to not rely on these governing bodies or these power entities to tell us how and when and where we should be supporting our tauira - obviously we know how to look after our own much more that they do," Mihiterina Williams said.
The other co-tumuaki, Te Rina West, (Te Arawa, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Tuwharetoa) says although there are clear gaps in terms of the Government's messaging - the core focus is students' wellbeing and that they feel supported.
"You try to be understanding that they [the Government] might not be able to cater to certain communities but at the same time you still want more, so for us as a Māori students association - that is what we are trying to provide for our students - the more nitty gritty details as well as the how are you and the checking-in.
"The more information we can get, the better we can make sure that our tauira are in the right spaces," West said.
They are asking the Government to focus on a more collaborative approach.
"I think it's definitely cool that the Government is taking steps to get social media influencers to try push certain messages more but giving the autonomy to make the decisions for our own people is even more impactful," Te Rina West said.
Along with ensuring all tauira are in the know, a key focus for the co-tumuaki is to make sure first-year students do not fully miss out on the university experience.
"It's in these first few weeks you get to meet people and for us this is where we go out and try and meet Māori students, because it can feel quite isolating - so my hope is that we can do initiative during lockdown so that our students aren't feeling as isolated during this time."
Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Priyanca Radhakrishnan, who is also Minster for Youth, defended the Government's Covid-19 messaging, saying a range of platforms were being used to connect with communities.
"Various Government agencies are directly contacting organisations that work with our rangatahi to check in with them to see how we can do things better.
"There are a fair few things that we are currently doing to ensure that we both tailor the messaging in a way that is relevant but that also use channels that are specifically relevant to those who speak different languages or who are from different demographics - we know we can continue to do this better," Radhakrishnan said.