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For government organisations needing support to maintain critical digital services during COVID-19, email gcdo@dia.govt.nz

COVID-19 response strengthened with Govt.nz WhatsApp service

Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has announced the launch of the New Zealand Government COVID-19 information service on WhatsApp, called Govt.nz. 

The app is linked to Government’s other response mechanisms in the broader lockdown response and is intended to help make information more accessible and shareable in the fight against COVID-19. 

The free automated service will provide official, trustworthy and up-to-date information and advice about COVID-19. 

This includes:

  • latest updates
  • latest cases
  • what you need to do
  • COVID-19 symptoms
  • financial support
  • travel advice
  • health, law and order, and business information
  • answers to the most commonly asked questions directly from the government. 

“The WhatsApp service provides New Zealanders with another important source of trusted information. As with the creation of the Covid-19.govt.nz website and the establishment of a new non-clinical 0800 Call Centre, in conjunction with Oranga Tamariki, these all help to provide official information as quickly as possible to the public — while also providing more channels for engagement with government,” said Ann-Marie Cavanagh, Deputy Chief Executive Digital Public Service branch, Department of Internal Affairs (DIA). 

Ann-Marie has been representing DIA in support of the all-of-government response to COVID-19 in the National Command Centre. 

How to use the service

You’ll be given a list of topics to choose from to receive further information. There are also links to government websites for more guidance. 

Govt.nz WhatsApp service is hosted by DIA

DIA is responsible for hosting the deployment of the Govt.nz WhatsApp service. Staff in the Digital Public Service branch worked hard to ensure due diligence was carried out across procurement, privacy and risk assessments to enable the successful operation. 

The capability will be retained after COVID for use in other emergency situations. Content ownership for COVID-19 response purposes is being managed by the Public Information Management team.

Development of the app

The Govt.nz WhatsApp service is being led and developed by Sam Morgan and Rob Fyfe. Both the UK and Australia have successfully launched this service in the past week to support their government response to Covid-19, and have seen significant uptake in both markets.

The Prime Minister said that since so many Kiwis already have WhatsApp, the Government didn’t consider building its own app. 

Government will consider other languages, in addition to English, for the app depending on uptake.

On 03 April 2020

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