Aotearoa New Zealand government communication during the 2020 lockdown

25 May 2021

This paper is under review and is currently available through First Look on SSRN to provide early access prior to publication.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is considered one of the best in the world. A major component of the response was the communication of public health measures. A reflexive thematic analysis of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s addresses to the nation and her daily press briefings with the Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, led us to identify three key themes:

  1. Open, honest and straightforward communication
  2. Distinctive and motivational language
  3. Expressions of care

We argue that the messages presented in the daily briefings supported the New Zealand Government’s COVID-19 elimination strategy through building trust with the audience and framing the ‘lockdown’ as an urgent, collective and meaningful cause, mobilising New Zealanders to support public health measures.