Coronavirus: Labour MP Peeni Henare says Opposition MPs' social media posts about COVID 'not helpful'

A Labour MP has hit out at MPs sharing misinformation and criticism of the Government's COVID-19 response, saying they're being "extremely unhelpful".

Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare told Newshub Nation on Saturday they should instead be looking to the "one source of truth" - the Government and Ministry of Health - when it comes to communicating with the public about the pandemic. 

It comes after National MP Simon O'Connor shared a cartoon on Facebook of a man being controlled like a puppet.

"How I feel right now," the MP for Tāmaki wrote

And last weekend Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi told tens of thousands of people they were "being asked" to self-isolate after attending events on Saturday night in Auckland and Hamilton - the Ministry of Health made no such directive, the events taking place before the city went into level 3 restrictions. 

"If people have been at those events or others and places of interest, then they should self-isolate," Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said on Sunday. "All Aucklanders who were at those events should now be at home and in level three."

Henare said their social media posts have been "not helpful at all".

"Right since a year ago, the Prime Minister, Dr Bloomfield and [COVID-19 Response] Minister [Chris] Hipkins have made it quite clear that we must look to our one source of truth," he told Newshub Nation.

"That's why we promote the daily briefings from here in Wellington, but also the information pages through websites and clear messaging through our providers in the community so that they can communicate that to families. The kind of noise that you might see on the fringe from opposition parties certainly is not helpful.

"I'd like to say to them, it's not helpful at all. We are a team of 5 million and we have a responsibility as representatives of our communities, who represent communities in the House of Parliament, to be on the same page with this. I'd ask them if they could not." 

Conspiracy expert and investigative journalist David Farrier told Newshub O'Connor was "dogwhistling to the conspiracy theory crowd" with the post.

"You just need to read the comments under that post to see people weighing in on who the puppet masters are. It's this narrative we're seeing all around the world with conspiracy theory culture from QAnon to what's happening here, where there's this idea we are puppets... it's immature. 

"Gerry Brownlee did this last year when he was dropping hints that the Government knew there would be another lockdown... it's frustrating, but it gets them a lot of likes on Facebook." 

The Government's communications through its own social media and briefings have been under fire this week for telling potential contacts of cases in the latest cluster different things. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern maintains a person who worked a shift after being deemed a contact had been told to stay home, while they claim they weren't. 

The phrase "one source of truth" was first used by Hipkins in August last year, when Auckland went into its second lockdown.