Siouxsie Wiles: Posts on Covid-19

The Spinoff 

Viruses vs Everyone

Spinoff cartoonist Toby Morris, with help from Dr Siouxsie Wiles, explores three important points about Covid-19.



After ‘Flatten the Curve’, we must now ‘Stop the Spread’. Here’s what that means

March 14, 2020

We must act quickly, with no half-measures. Dr Siouxsie Wiles explains why, with illustrations by Toby Morris.


During an outbreak, if we can’t control the spread of the disease, then the number of sick people quickly rises. For Covid-19 we know this: about two out of every 10 people will need to be hospitalised for between two and six weeks. About one in 20 people will end up in intensive care, and one in a hundred will need a ventilator to help them breathe.

Read More »

The world is on fire: My message to New Zealanders on Covid-19

March 16, 2020

Think of the coronavirus pandemic as a bunch of fires erupting around the world. Drastic action is required, and that’s why firebreaks are urgent, writes Siouxsie Wiles.

Dear fellow people of Aotearoa New Zealand

I’m writing this letter because I want to reach out to you all about Covid-19. If you don’t know me, I’m a microbiologist. I have spent the last 20 years studying infectious microbes. I work at the University of Auckland where my lab is trying to find new antibiotics – not very useful when it comes to stopping viruses, unfortunately, but something we are in growing need of for other reasons.

Read More »

How testing for Covid-19 works

How the process runs, why we’re not testing everyone who feels ill, and something you can do online immediately and easily to help the fight against the virus.


Read More »

Keeping anxiety in check amidst uncertainty

From The Detail 18 March 2020

Psychologist Karen Nimmo has issued some sage advice about combating your coronavirus fears – included among it, maybe ration your news intake and stop talking about it so much at home, especially in front of the children.

“It’s all around us – there are experts talking about it, it’s new and it’s uncertain, every day and often every hour we’re getting fresh updates. So of course you’re going to be anxious.

Listen to the podcast where she talks to Emile Donovan about keeping anxiety in check amidst uncertainty and  how to talk to your children about Covid-19: you don’t want to underplay it, but you also don’t want to traumatise an eight year-old. Nimmo says if both parents are worried about it, maybe don’t talk about it so much – especially not where flapping ears are taking it all in.

Centre Management of COVID-19


The centre has adopted the Ministry of Health (MOH) guidelines and will be following all advice issued by the Ministry of Education (MOE) / MOH / NZ Government.

Current MOE guidelines state that there is no need to close the centre as there are only a few cases of COVID-19 and none related to small children.

Prevent the Spread

  • Do you feel unwell?
  • Do you have any of these symptons:
    • Cough
    • Fever
    • Breathing difficulties
  • Have been overseas in the last 14 days?
  • Are you close to someone diagnosed with COVID-19?


Call 0800 358 5453 for free advice from a health professional.

Preventing the risk

At the centre the most important thing we can do to prevent infection is to practice good hygiene. This means:

  • covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues
  • disposing of used tissues appropriately in a bin
  • coughing/sneezing into your elbow – we will be demonstrating this technique to our kids and encouraging them to use it
  • washing hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water and drying them thoroughly:
    • before eating or handling food
    • after using the toilet
    • after coughing, sneezing, blowing nose or wiping children’s noses
    • after touching public surfaces
  • using hand sanitiser between hand washing
  • disinfecting surfaces

At the centre we have checked out civil defense kit and first aide kits are well stocked and up-to-date.

We have stocked up on disinfectant, hand sanitiser and paper towels and ensuring that the centre is well ventilated.

Download Posters

Matariki 2019

Matariki signals the start of the Māori New Year that begins with the rising of the Matariki star cluster (the Pleiades or Seven Sisters).

Because Māori follow Maramataka (the Māori lunar calendar), not the European calendar, the dates for Matariki change every year. In 2019  Matariki will re-appear in the dawn sky between the 25th to 28th June.

Matariki is a time a time for renewal, celebration and wellbeing. Māori were guided by  the stars, when Matariki disappeared in April/May, it was time to preserve crops for the winter season. When it re-appeared in June/July, tūpuna would read the stars to predict the upcoming season – clear and bright stars promised a warm and abundant winter while hazy stars warned of a bleak winter (from Te Iwa o Matariki).

See our last year’s post on Matariki »

Te Iwa o Matariki Resources

Find out more about Te Iwa o Matariki with these helpful resources.


What do I say to my child? Helping your child after a traumatic event

MOH advice on how to help your children cope with trauma

How children react to trauma is different from adults – they may withdraw or behave in a more “babyish” way, seem anxious or clingy, be preoccupied with the event in their play or drawing, have problems sleeping or nightmares, or may get physical symptoms such as stomach aches or headaches.

As with adults, most children will recover with support and love from those around them.

As parents or caregivers you will know your kids best, and what works for them. Some simple dos and don’ts to guide you support a distressed child are:


  1. Reassure them that the event is over and they are safe.
  2. Encourage them to talk about how they feel about what happened.
  3. Tell them they can ask questions, and answer these in plain language appropriate to their age – be honest but avoid details of the trauma.
  4. Tell them that feeling upset or afraid is normal, and that telling you how they are feeling will help, that with time they will feel better.
  5. Be understanding – they may have problems sleeping, tantrums, wet the bed – be patient and reassuring if this happens – again, with support and care it will pass.
  6. Give your children extra love and attention.
  7. Remember that children look to their parents to both feel safe and to know how to respond – reassure them, share that you are upset too but that you know you will all be fine together.
  8. Try to keep to normal routines – mealtimes, bedtimes etc. – allow them to get out and play, to go to the park etc.
  9. HOWEVER if a child’s distress is escalating, or they are displaying any worrying behaviours – extreme withdrawal, terror that you cannot comfort them from etc – seek help early. Your GP is a good start, OR For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to talk it through with a trained counsellor.


  1. Talking about the details of a traumatic event repeatedly can be harmful. Children may be fascinated/horrified and may want to ask about details, talk about what they saw/experienced.
  2. If this is repeated try to refocus them on how they are feeling e.g. what happened is awful, it’s normal to feel upset or afraid, how are you feeling?
  3. Don’t tell them “don’t worry” or “don’t be upset” – it is natural to want to protect them from fear and difficult emotions, but they need to have their feelings acknowledged and validated as a normal response.
  4. Try not to be over-protective, again this is a natural thing for a parent to do, but as part of keeping normal

See also:

What to tell children about the Christchurch mosque shootings

Parents wrestling with how to explain the Christchurch mosque massacre to their children should tell them they’re safe, but be honest that something bad has happened.

Clinical psychologist Dr Sarb Johal said that when it came to dealing with tragedy, children took cues from their parents

“Kids need to be told ‘you’re safe, we’re safe, something bad has happened and there are people out there helping’,” Johal said.

Read more: What to tell children about the Christchurch mosque shootings
Stuff, 15/3/2019

Early Learning Strategic Plan | He taonga te tamaiti

Ministry of Education, 19 November 2018

A draft strategic plan for early learning for the next 10 years is now open for public consultation.

He taonga te tamaiti aims to develop and strengthen the early learning sector, to meet the needs of all children and their families and whānau.

Key proposals for change include:

  • moving towards a 100% qualified teacher workforce in early childhood education centres
  • improving the adult:child ratios for babies and toddlers
  • increasing the consistency and levels of teacher salaries and conditions across the sector
  • a more planned approach to establishing new services, greater support and increased monitoring.

Hui & Online Survey

Consultation includes an online survey as well as a series of hui around the country.

He taonga te tamaiti is open for consultation until 15 March 2019.

The full draft plan is available in:

The summary draft plan is available in:


Mental Health Awareness Week 8-14 October 2018

Let nature in, strengthen your wellbeing – Mā te taiao, kia whakapakari tōu oranga

Connecting with nature can uplift your wairua/spirit and promote mental health and wellbeing.

Five Ways to Wellbeing

Five Ways to Wellbeing are five simple yet proven actions you can use every day to help you find balance, build resilience and boost your wellbeing.


Connect / Whakawhanaungatanga

The illustration shows the connection between people and nature, particularly in places of cultural significance. The marae and two people in a hongi represents people receiving and giving strength to each other. Their wellbeing is boosted through a community context.

Take Notice / Me Aro Tonu

The whānau/family on the hill are looking up at Ranginui/Sky Father, discovering his role and admiring his beauty. They’re learning about themselves and the natural environment as they do it. Another illustration representing ‘Take Notice’ is the woman in the middle of the poster, who is closing her eyes and paying more attention to the present moment, her thoughts, feelings and the world around her.

Keep Learning / Me Ako Tonu

Connecting to places that enrich cultural identity feature throughout the design. Maunga, awa, whenua and marae are all places that are spoken about in a pepeha (how Māori connect through their whakapapa/genealogy). The illustration encourages you to continue learning about your whakapapa, regardless of where you come from, and to reconnect with your family. You might find this illustration aligns well with ‘Keep Learning’, another action from the Five Ways to Wellbeing.

Be Active / Me Kori Tonu

Featured throughout the illustration is fishing, running, playing, biking, hiking and being mindful. These are just a selection of common ways to be physically active in Aotearoa.

Give / Tukua

Giving is all about sharing the first of your harvest. Papatūānuku is gifting the kete/basket of kaimoana/seafood, and the sun is providing warmth and energy, and acting as a kaitiaki/guardian in the sky to support the work of Ranginui.

More information »

Fact sheet: About the Five Ways to Wellbeing »

Source: Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand


Te Wiki o te Reo | Māori Māori Language Week

September 10th-14th

Theme: Kia Kaha te Reo Māori

‘Kia Kaha’ is well known in New Zealand meaning ‘be strong’. We’re talking about language health, strength and revitalisation. So when we say ‘Kia Kaha te Reo Māori’ we’re saying -‘Let’s make the Māori language strong’!

“Strength for an endangered language comes from its status, people being aware of how to support revitalisation, people acquiring and using it and from the language having the right words and terms to be used well for any purpose.”
Source: Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori

Wellington Events

Māori Language Parade

10th September 2018

The hīkoi will start at 12pm at Parliament grounds and continue through the centre of town to ‘Te Ngākau’ (Civic Square).

The organisers, The Māori Language Commission, are hoping for bright, colourful and themed parade with walkers and floats dressed to celebrate te reo Māori.

The Dowse Art Museum

10th -16th Sep, 10am – 5pm ǀ Free

Drop into The Hive – a family lounge and discover puzzles, stories, crafts and activities to explore and celebrate Te Reo Māori.

National Library – Children’s Stories and Sustainable Art

Te Ahumairangi Ground Floor, Saturday 15 September 2018 10:30am – 12:30pm

Fun for mokopuna and tamariki. Enjoy stories in English and te reo Māori and to make some great earth friendly art!

Learn from our resident story teller. Resident story teller Watene Kaihua will present interactive te reo stories where tamariki can learn new words and have fun.

Make a kete or poi from recycled materials, do some colouring in or make a mask of an Atua (Māori god).

About Te Wiki o te Reo

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori is a government-sponsored initiative intended to encourage New Zealanders to promote the use of the Māori language, which, along with English and New Zealand Sign Language, is an official language of the country. Māori Language Week is part of a broader revival of the Māori language.

It has been celebrated since 1975 and is currently spearheaded by Te Puni Kōkiri (the Ministry of Māori Development) and the Māori Language Commission, with many organizations including schools, libraries, and government departments participating.
Source: Wikipedia