COVID-19 – Important information form MoH

As of today, New Zealand has eight confirmed cases of COVID-19. One of the eight cases was diagnosed in Australia.

The global situation regarding COVID-19 is developing rapidly. With continued vigilance the chance of wide spread community outbreak is expected to remain low.
Self isolation remains one of the most important tools in the fight against COVID-19. We’re working to scale up our support for the increased number of people who will be in self isolation and ensuring they have adequate support and information to do it successfully and safely.

Ministry has a work programme in place to ensure the needs of Māori are addressed in relation to COVID-19. The focus is on containing and minimising the spread of COVID-19.

This work programme includes:

  • Establishing a Māori Expert Advisory Group to advise on both the medical as well as operational aspects of the response plan and activities to ensure Māori whānau and communities needs are met in regard to COVID-19.
  • Development of a specific Māori response alongside our national plans including links into local networks to support each stage of our national pandemic plan (from ‘stamp it out’, ‘manage it pre and post-peak’ and ‘recover from it’)
  • Collaboration with other agencies as part of the National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC) system and structure to strengthen and deepen our cross-government actions to support Māori in regard to COVID-19.
  • A series of communications to deliver public health messages and updates about COVID-19 has commenced and will continue through a wide range of channels to reach iwi, hapu and whānau.

Due to situation changes, we have updated advice below for you and your networks in regard to:

  • Mass gatherings
  • Tikanga Māori including kawa – temporary changes due to COVID-19
  • Requirement for travellers arriving in New Zealand to self isolate for 14 days
  • Practical advice around self isolation.

We know it can be a stressful time and there are concerns in our communities arising from mis-information.
Please ensure that everyone knows the Ministry of Health website is the official channel for COVID-19 communications:
The dedicated COVID-19 health queries Healthline number is 0800 358 5453 for people who are unwell and think they may have COVID-19, and/or people who are registering self isolation after returning from overseas. This number is NOT for travel advice. Please remember to advise people to only use the dedicated Healthline number for health related COVID-19 inquiries and to contact their airline or travel agents for travel information.

To prevent the spread, it is important that everyone knows to ring ahead of their visit to the doctor if they think they might have COVID-19 and tell them about their personal situation/symptoms. This way, their doctors can put plans in place to manage their visit.

Below are some key updates and links to the Ministry of Health’s website for official information about COVID-19.
We want to extend a big thank you to everyone for your continued efforts to ‘stamp it out’. Protecting Aotearoa is everyone’s responsibility.

Mass gatherings/events – NEW advice
The Government has recently issued advice about when to cancel mass gatherings/events. This is an important aspect of our public health strategy to delay the onset of community transmission of COVID-19, and to limit the infection’s spread if community transmission occurs.

Canceling mass gatherings can help slow the spread of COVID-​19 in New Zealand, reduce the number of people infected, and protect those who are more vulnerable to severe illness (such as our kaumātua). This framework will apply to non-essential gatherings (sporting events, music festivals, arts festivals and private events) and not to essential events (parliament, school, preschool, work, university).

Many groups including kapa haka groups, sports teams, whānau, hapu, iwi and Māori organisations and marae committees will need to work through how the cancellation framework impacts any upcoming events they are planning – including whānau reunions, hui/wānanga, and celebratory events like birthdays and weddings. It will be disappointing to have to cancel planned events, but this public health emergency will come to an end eventually and we will get through this. However, for right now, it is about doing what’s right to protect our people and our guests – manaaki tangata, otirā manaaki manuhiri hoki.
For more information about when to cancel mass gatherings, please go to:
For those who sadly have tangihanga, we kindly ask that you consider what variations to tikanga and kawa can be made to ensure manaaki tangata for all who attend.  For example:

  • If you are sick, please do not attend and please do not prepare or handle food intended for the tangihanga
  • Consider carefully how to protect our most vulnerable people including limiting attendance and/or other measures to protect our koroua and kuia (our kaumātua)
  • Consider limiting attendance generally including for instance sending whānau representatives, who can go on behalf of the wider whānau
  • Consider alternatives to physical attendance including utilising technology that allows social connection without physical connection
  • If you are attending, giving advance notice to the haukainga at the marae so they know who will be attending and can prepare for your arrival, and being supportive of any changes to tikanga and kawa put in place by the haukainga to enhance their ability to manaaki manuhiri
  • As haukainga, make sure you are clear with manuhiri on changes to tikanga and kawa to and have sufficient cleaning products to support hand hygiene

Tikanga Māori and gatherings – UPDATED advice
The situation has changed, and our Prime Minister has asked all New Zealanders to play our part to refrain from physical contact to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Physical contact is a way that COVID-19 can spread from person to person. As well as the impact on New Zealanders generally, this will have an effect on particular areas of tikanga Māori (including kawa), as we move to protect our whānau, hapū and iwi (particularly those who are more vulnerable such as our kaumātua – our koroua and kuia).

In practice, this means suspending our customs of hongi and harirū, alongside stopping kissing, hugging and other forms of close physical contact.  Alternatives include, waving, smiling, head nod, or other non-physical contact greetings.

We want to acknowledge there are some marae and iwi (such as Te Âtiawa and Ngāti Kahungunu) who have made adjustments to their usual tikanga and kawa practices in response to COVID-19. We know our people will do the right thing to protect our whānau, hapū and iwi, and to manaaki manuhiri.

Requirement for travellers arriving in New Zealand to self isolate for 14 days
For travellers who arrive after 1:00 am on Monday 16 March from any country except those listed on the countries and areas of concern under Category 2 you will need to self isolate for 14 days. For more information, please see

Practical advice around self isolation
We understand there have been some questions around the practical aspects of self isolation. We have provided some additional explanations around things you can do to make it easier in self isolation

  • Try to separate yourself from people you live with
  • Use of shared spaces if you live with others
  • Don’t have visitors in your home
  • Laundry
  • Transport
  • If you live with children or an older or vulnerable person
  • If you are breast feeding while staying at home
  • Getting food and medicine.

In addition:

  • We have updated our definition of close contact to match international definitions and the WHO. Close contact is now defined as within 2 meters for 15 minutes or more (previously this was 1 meter).
  • We are deliberately referring now to physical distancing rather than social distancing – this is to avoid any confusion that those in self isolation need to be socially detached when the opposite is true. Social engagement through non-physical contact is encouraged as part of looking after your mental well being.

For more information, please see

Important Public Health Messages to prevent the spread of COVID-19
We know it can be a stressful time and there are concerns in our communities arising from mis-information. Our past lessons tell us we need to get our communication right and to go both far and wide with the same message. We know our people will do the right thing, but they need the right information at the right time to help them make these decisions.

Our key public health messages that can assist in preventing our whānau, hapū and iwi from contracting COVID-19, include:

  • Mahia te hopi. Horoi ō ringa.
           Wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds).
  • Whakamātihetihe te ihu ki te tuke.
           Cough or sneeze into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues.
  • Rauatu te aihika ki te ipupara.
           Put used tissues in the bin or a bag immediately.
  • Mēnā ka paru ō ringa, kaua e pā te kānohi.
           Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
  • Whakapūputu ai te patuero i ngā mea katoa. Hei tauira: Ngā kakau, ngā papa, ngā taputapu.
           Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as doorknobs.
  • Mēnā ka māuiui koe, herea ki te kainga.
           Stay home if you feel unwell

Particularly for the vulnerable such as our kaumātua, kuia and those compromised or with co-morbidities (eg cardiovascular disease, diabetes or hypertension). We need to take extra care of them in regard to COVID-19. One other thing to consider is ensuring they get the annual influenza vaccine as the last thing we want is for them to get both influenza and COVID-19.

Please can you help:

  1. Ensure your provider networks know about these COVID-19 updates.
  2. Disseminate information through your local networks to ensure our whānau, hapū and iwi know the updated advice and how to keep themselves safe following good public health hygiene practices.
  3. Ensure everyone knows the Ministry of Health website is the official communications forum for COVID-19 information:

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