In 2020, New Zealand Māori made up 6.8% of postgraduate students at the University of Otago (Sizemore, 2020). These students are supported by the author in her role as Māori Postgraduate Support Adviser (hereafter “the Adviser”). During the country’s first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, the Adviser used Facebook—specifically the University of Otago’s page for Māori postgraduate students—to communicate with this cohort. She adapted the kaupapa Te Whare Tapa Whā (Durie, 1985) into a communication tool, and its success is evaluated in this article by tracking engagement online and through autoethnographic analysis by the Adviser. Engagement with the page by students and staff was frequent but decreased over time. Given the average number of people reached was 50, the posts were deemed to be effective. Whānau was the most important pillar of Te Whare Tapa Whā in getting students to engage, and this was stimulated by the introduction of the Adviser’s pets. Pet posts helped maintain and form relationships with students. The Facebook page continues to be used to communicate with students in the post-COVID-19 environment.
Te Whare Tapa Whā and Facebook: Online communication with Māori postgraduate students during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown