Key information 

Te Hiringa Mahara is producing a series of short reports during the course of 2022 and 2023 to add our collective understanding of the wellbeing impacts of the pandemic and to provide key insights on wellbeing areas or populations of focus. 

COVID-19 and safety in the home – March 2023

In this report, we show that the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns led to an increase in reports of violence and harm in the home, with some groups particularly impacted.

The report also shows the following:

  • Being cut off from support networks and being trapped in unsafe situations saw violence and controlling behaviour change, increase, and grow more severe.
  • Women, children, and young people, particularly those who are Māori, or from the rainbow community, were particularly affected.
  • Digital technology allowed online violence and abuse to be brought directly into people’s homes, but the digital divide made accessing help difficult for some.
  • Government and community responses were valuable, but more should be done to empower communities, provide a range of safe accessible supports, and monitor and research family and sexual violence.

To help members of some of Aotearoa New Zealand's communities stay safe and secure in the face of increased likelihood of violence, we call on the government to enhance community involvement in both planning and decision-making processes; to keep equitable access to services and support front of mind; to ensure a range of safe and accessible supports are available when needed; and to engage and check in with service providers and community organisations to understand trends and developments in some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most-at-risk communities.

COVID-19 and safety in the home [PDF, 248 KB]

Impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of rural communities in Aotearoa New Zealand – February 2023

In this report, we show that rural communities face different wellbeing challenges to urban Aotearoa, and the pandemic has presented a range of added additional stresses. 

The report also shows the following: 

  • The pandemic exacerbated rural communities’ challenges accessing support, workforces and resources due to distance from main centres and digital connectivity.
  • Rural communities are diverse, and the pandemic has affected different parts of rural communities differently. Farmers experience different stresses and challenges than other parts of the rural community. 
  • With a higher rural population, rural issues are disproportionately Māori issues. A uniquely Māori response to some of the pandemic’s challenges has supported wellbeing, and should be recognised and strengthened. 
  • Iwi, hapū and marae became centres of excellence for responding to the pandemic. Along with other community hubs, they became a place where resources could be distributed, planning could take place and where people could find connections.

The nature of the impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of rural communities has evolved, and will continue to evolve, over the course of the pandemic – life has not 'returned to normal' and the need for support has not gone away. 

It is also important to recognise that rural communities are not one monolithic group, and that rural issues disproportionately affect Māori.  

We call for greater understanding of and research into the diverse needs and experiences of rural communities, and greater involvement of rural communities in planning and decision-making, particularly with rural Māori. 

Impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of rural communities in Aotearoa New Zealand [PDF, 198 KB]

Impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of older people in Aotearoa New Zealand – December 2022

In this report, we show that older people contributed greatly through the pandemic, often coping and supporting others across a range of areas - despite often facing worse impacts of the pandemic.

The report also shows the following:

  • While older people tend to experience better wellbeing than other age groups across a range of measures, predictably, the pandemic had negative impacts on wellbeing.
  • Different parts of the older community experienced the pandemic in different ways – the challenges faced often exacerbated existing inequities in wellbeing, and the factors that affect it.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has changed attitudes toward ageing and older people, with older people being positioned as vulnerable, less adaptable and a burden on the rest of society.
  • Older Māori, Pacific and Asian people were often highly connected within their own communities, highlighted by their ability to leverage whānau and community support to access health services, food and necessities.
  • Whilst the pandemic led to more loneliness amongst older members of the community, kaumātua worked hard to maintain connections with their communities and whānau in a variety of different ways.

It is important that our understanding of the pandemic, and our planning for the future – both responding to crises and supporting wider wellbeing – recognises that older people are not one monolithic group.

We call for greater involvement of older people in decision-making that affects them, greater understanding of and research into the diverse needs and experiences of older communities, and greater recognition and leverage of the agency and contributions of those communities.

Impact of COVID-19 on wellbeing of older people in Aotearoa New Zealand [PDF, 214 KB]

Media reporting of COVID-19 and mental health and wellbeing - October 2022

Our first report Media reporting of COVID-19 and mental health and wellbeing [PDF, 288 KB] provides a scene-setter for the rest of the series.

The wellbeing analysis in the report draws on the He Ara Oranga Wellbeing Outcomes Frameworkwhich describes the aspects of good wellbeing in Aotearoa and guides the way we monitor the systems that influence wellbeing in our communities. 

In this report we publish analysis to better understand how mental health has been reflected in media coverage of COVID-19 in Aotearoa. The findings are presented in short, summary form; with a longer technical report providing greater detail on the data, methodology, and findings.

Drawing on more than 3000 publicly available media articles, we used natural language processing to investigate and to explore media coverage by mainstream news media and how this changed over the pandemic. 

The report identifies nine broad themes and six sub-themes that describe the impacts of the pandemic on mental health in New Zealand. In short:  

  • Media coverage on the mental health problems contributed to by the pandemic has been concentrated on the changes to people’s work, education, and lifestyle, the material impacts of this, and loneliness. 
  • Media coverage on mental health solutions has focused on resources, chiefly access to services, supports and resources. 
  • Distress and other impacts of the pandemic have frequently been normalised and universalised in media coverage.

These are important factors, but this narrow view misses out other factors that we know are important to mental health in Aotearoa. 

Understanding mental health requires understanding the broader aspects of good wellbeing – including connection, hope, rights, self-expression, and self-determination of individuals and communities. In the pandemic context, this would mean considering mental health much more broadly than the direct impacts on health and work.  

Everybody experiences wellbeing differently, based on a variety of factors; and some communities experience poorer wellbeing across a range of measures. If we are to improve wellbeing for all, we need to understand these experiences, and ensure everyone is supported to flourish. 

Media reporting of COVID-19 and mental health and wellbeing [PDF, 288 KB]


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