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Everyone’s a comms expert

We got a very public view this week of the result of requiring widespread consensus on any piece of communication.

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board junked printed leaflets which depicted the SARS-COV2 virus with Māori facial moko, after top level complaints, including from a Labour List MP.

The DHB CEO apologised, saying he would have rejected the brochure if he had seen it originally because “…as Pākehā, that appeared to portray the Covid virus as a Māori character, and that’s not okay.”

Very awkwardly, the material was thought to be okay by the Māori illustrator, the Māori marketing specialists who conceived it, and “some local iwi” who the Board Chair said were consulted and approved. There is no indication whether it troubled any of the public who saw it.

The assumption appears to be that the agreement of all possible representatives of the audience is needed before any communication goes out to that audience.

Without agreement, all communication with (in this case) Māori from mainstream organisations remains vulnerable to even one complaint. With agreement, accurate and timely communication might be too hard or to ineffective to contemplate.

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