A happy-go-lucky Whanganui boy has gone viral on social media for his safety messages about Covid-19.
John Jnr Panatahi Firmin featured on the latest Ministry of Health videos, where he talks about the golden rules people should follow to stay safe from Covid-19.
John Jnr's cheerful energy and confidence generated more than 40,000 likes on the Ministry of Health's Facebook page.
Golden Rules with Panatahi - Sneezing and Coughing
Our mate Panatahi wants to make sure whānau across Aotearoa are staying safe and healthy so he's sharing with us the Golden Rules we should follow to keep COVID-19 at bay. Sneezing and Coughing into your elbow is something we can all do to stop the spread of COVID-19. It catches the droplets and prevents them from getting onto your hands and spreading on to things you touch. To find out more ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 visit https://www.health.govt.nzPosted by Ministry of Health - Manatū Hauora on Thursday, 27 August 2020
The 8-year-old, who posts a variety of content on his Facebook page Becoming Panatahi, started his page during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Videography and storytelling runs in the Firmin family, with mother Kiritahi Firmin using the spare time she had in the lockdown to share her knowledge and skills on organics and living off the land.
"He went off on his own creative buzz and shared his ad-lib stories," Kiritahi said.
"It's just grown from there. I think because of his unique, creative nature, he's got a magnetism about him that people are curious about."
A Ministry of Health production member had seen his videos and approached the family to see if they were interested in helping out with educating the public around Covid-19.
John Jnr said he loves making videos, even if it makes him nervous.
"I sometimes get scared on filming days. But I enjoy it."
He said they were supposed to have another filming day this weekend, but due the recent Auckland lockdown it has been put on hold.
With more than 40,000 likes and two million views of his first video with the Ministry of Health, it would be easy for it to get to John Jnr's ego.
"It hasn't fazed him out at all," Kiritahi said.
"We say to him 'over two million people have watched this', he just goes 'oh yeah'. It doesn't really matter to the kid."
"I just like telling stories and showing people how to do things," John Jnr said.
Kiritahi said John Jnr has always been a bit of a performer, after growing up with kapa haka.
"He will get out the very front and just go for it. He's always had a specialness about him."
Kiritahi has never pushed her son to do anything, saying he's just naturally curious and is who he is.
"He's outside of the box. There will be times when he wants to have conversations with the elements, like the birds and the environment, and we are very proud of that. He sees more than the human eye sees."
Kiritahi hopes John Jnr's exposure in the Ministry of Health videos will help them pursue some acting opportunities they have tried in the past to share his stories.
"We tried twice with Maori Television to produce some series of Being Panatahi. We got the nod, but didn't get funding because we didn't have the listenership.
"Now if you look at what just happened, they shouldn't say no again."