Is the Disinformation Project Unbiased?

“The Disinformation Project”

Established in February 2020 coincidentally at the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Group claim it is an independent research group.

“The Disinformation Project is an independent research group studying misinformation and disinformation in Aotearoa New Zealand. Since February 2020, we have used mixed methods approaches to analyse and review the seed and spread of information disorders – and their impact on the lives of New Zealanders.”

Lets see how independent they are.

The first port of call is always who is funding the work being done by the organisation given the responsibility of determining what is disinformation. What is the basis that information is to be determined to be disinformation or misinformation and is there anyone or anything that benefits from certain information being discredited.

The group is made up of

Kate Hannah who is the Director, Santana Hattotuwa and Kayli Taylor

let’s start with Kate Hanna as she is the head honcho of the Disinformation Project.

Her Bio includes her interests

Her research interests include gender, ‘race’, eugenics, colonization and white supremacism in historic and contemporary science and technology cultures and subcultures.

There may be some bias there but let’s look a little further into her qualifications and experience and research projects.

She is a PhD candidate having studied historiography of science, cultural history of science and gender and science. She is not a medical professional, a virologist nor an immunologist or a microbiologist.

She is a principle Investigator for te Punaha Matetini who receives a substantive amount of its funding from the government because of its modelling to do with COVID-19

Her fellow investigator Shaun Henry, who is the theoretical Physicist who’s modelling told the Government that 88,000 New Zealanders were going to die if we did nothing. Don’t mention Sweden near him he may get triggered.


Te Punaha Matetini is what the majority of Kates paid work appears to be for. The funding here is

  • $4 million from the Governments Tertiary Education Commission. This was on the basis of the contribution to the modelling of infection spread of COVID-19. Remember the 88,000 deaths we were going to get. Yep that modelling. Shaun Handy is the Director of Te Punaha Matatini.
  • $4.2 million funding from the Marsden Fund, Government money distributed by the Royal Society. Remember them, the ones that think that Maori mythology should be taught as science and if you don’t agree you are a racist.

Kate Hannah worked on several studies to do with COVID

  • On April 14 2020, she and some of her fellow Investigators produced a study called “Estimated inequities in COVID-19 infection fatality rates by ethnicity for Aotearoa New Zealand” In part the team conclude that racism in the healthcare system and other inequities not reflected in official data could increase the fatality rate of Maori and Pasifika above the already increased fatality rates due to age and crowding of households.
  • in Early 2021 Kate and her intellectual chums published another COVID-19publication Calle “Māori and Pacific People in New Zealand have higher risk of hospitalisation for COVID-19” the conclusion of this study is; Conclusions. Structural inequities and systemic racism in the healthcare system mean that Māori and Pacific communities face a much greater health burden from COVID-19. Older people and those with pre-existing health conditions are also at greater risk. This should inform future policy decisions including prioritising groups for vaccination.
  • In May the same group of scientists produced a study called “A structured model for COVID-19 spread: modelling age and healthcare inequities” Again the focus is on the have nots and what to do to avoid the spread in the non-privileged communities.
  • September 2020 the same chums produced a paper called, “Mathematical modelling to inform New Zealand’s COVID-19 response” a strong focus on inequality in this paper (which may be justified but is certainly a strong theme) however the first paragraph of the discussion is as follows. “Mathematical modelling has played a key role in informing New Zealand’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This included the decision to ‘go hard, go early’ and issue stay-at-home orders from 25 March 2020, as well as the timing of relaxation of alert levels(DPMC 2020a, 2020b[DPMC] Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. 2020b. CAB-20-SUB-0220 review of COVID-19 Alert Level 3, 11 May 2020. Proactive release. [accessed 2020 Aug 6]. [Google Scholar], 2020c) Public communication of the science behind the response, in the mainstream media, social media and via interactive web apps, helped build public understanding and trust in government decision-making.”
  • September 6 we get a study from the Punaha Matatini called “Evaluating the infodemic: assessing the prevalence and nature of COVID- 19 unreliable and untrustworthy information in Aotearoa New Zealand’s social media, January-August 2020. This is getting good now. in their Methods they site, We assembled a team of computational and data scientists, public understanding of science and technology scholars, and conspiracy theory scholars with diverse disciplinary backgrounds in August 2020 to collate and analyse Aotearoa New Zealand’s publicly available social media, mainstream media, and public discourse from mid-January 2020 to the present. I never knew there were scholars in conspiracy theories, or perhaps that is who gets hired by spy agencies. anyway this one is a good read so its linked here disinformation study
  • There is another mis-and disinformation study but it seems to have been removed from existence on the internet. I wonder why? could it be the misinformation wasn’t misinformation such as a number of the ones mentioned in the study above. However it does appear again as a working paper under the the same name as above. The paper is also released by the Punaha Matatini but interestingly is on “The Disinformation Project” the authors are the same Kate Hannah, Sanjana Hatttotuwa and Kayli Taylor. So after deciding on what is disinformation on the previous paper they now release a paper funded with Government funding after previously praising the prime ministers office in communications. here is the intro, “Since February 2020 a small interdisciplinary team, The Disinformation Project, has been observing and analysing open source, publicly available data related to Covid-19 mis- and disinformation on social media, mainstream media, and in physical and other digital forms of information and knowledge dissemination. Our project is part of the Aotearoa New Zealand National Centre of Research Excellence for Complexity, Te Pūnaha Matatini. In our work, The Disinformation Project has developed a novel mixed methods approach which combines a range of standard open-source quantitative reporting from social media, media platforms or sources with a rich text and artefact- based narrative analysis of longform qualitative data. From August 2020, our work included the study of mis- and disinformation ecosystems in Aotearoa, including the seed and spread of ‘dangerous speech’, hateful expression, and criminal behaviour. We focus on effects and causes here, but study the global trends, themes, narratives, and actors who influence online harms in Aotearoa.” full paper here Project Disinformation Project

Whilst the group likely do capture information that is non factual it seems that Kate Hannah’s bias stems from a very pro vaccine pro strict government control ideology. I.E. The team are highly opinionated on extremely subjective topics and they use very emotive terminology such as Dangerous Speech, Violent, far-right. Citing vaccine resistance as a negative response to the information being spread.

Self appointed police?

Perhaps these three are the best qualified to decide on what is misinformation. However as much as they may believe they are doing a good service can we really trust their assessment of facts.

None of them hold any practising medical qualifications nor qualifications in Virology, microbiology, Immunology, communicable disease, public health or epidemiology.

They do hold very strong beliefs in there being high degrees of inequality, sexual discrimination and racism in both the universities and health departments of New Zealand.

Furthermore they strongly believe that the Government has done the right thing and are they are wholey funded by Government organisations they also work very closely with the Prime Ministers Office.

Here is an article published in the Spinoff by Kate Hanna. Again she has no scientific qualifications that make her an expert in the efficacy or safety of the vaccine. All you can say is she believes in what she is talking about regardless of whether she has the academic ability to know she is correct

How to talk to loved ones who are vaccine hesitant

here is an excerpt

“But many of your – of my, of our – friends and whānau who are yet to be vaccinated are unsure. It might seem to you that uncertainty is ridiculous or even stupid when we can all see what is happening in countries where the unvaccinated are being hospitalised and dying. The pandemic in the United States is now a pandemic of the unvaccinated. But the uncertainty of your friends and your whānau is being manipulated. On social media platforms, in group messaging apps, in the comments sections, on fliers dropped into people’s letterboxes, and in material posted on walls, your loved ones are having misinformation thrown at them – about the vaccine, about the virus itself, and about Aotearoa’s response to the pandemic.”

That hasn’t aged very well has it? Is it now disinformation in itself. There are plenty of highly qualifies epidemiologists who would tear that statement to threads

Here is more of her work that shows what her political and social bias’ are


Sanjana Hattotuwa

His about me page below

Seems he is an expert in disinformation having started his own media outlet called Groundviews. It has a noble vision being as below

To demonstrate, by example, that citizen journalism can enable civil, progressive and inclusive discussions on democracy, rights, governance and peace in Sri Lanka.

Kayli Taylor

Bio Copied below

Kayli Taylor is a researcher and writer with a background in social history. Kayli has worked with the Disinformation Project since 2021.

Their Masters thesis examined a history of student activism in response to the issue of sexual violence on university campuses in Aotearoa New Zealand from 1980-2020. Using archival materials, oral history interviews, and policy analysis; Kayli explored these historic shifts and the institutional responses from universities.

Kayli’s work with the Disinformation Project continues these analyses of power – interrogating the way systems of power influence society.

In her spare time, Kayli enjoys reading, travelling, and drafting tweets she never sends.

There isn’t much information on Kayli apart from she is very passionate about bringing awareness to sexual abuse issues in the Otago university.

The Otago University seems to be a common denominator with this team.


The Disinformation Project seem to be more of an organisation pushing information from a relatively unqualified and predetermined basis. Much of their senior members work has given her employer a large increase in Government funding and much of what they have deemed to be conspiratorial is now commonly accepted as being true. Such as the likely origin of the virus, the efficacy of the vaccine, the benefit of herd immunity and  the measuring of deaths “with” covid rather than from.

Perhaps this organisation would be better with a larger group of people with better credentials to debate what is disinformation or not, from a truly unbiased point of view. Perhaps the Plan B team that they actively rubbish as conspiratorial in their work.

Their Latest Work

What has Brought this group to many peoples attention is their discussion on the misinformation as it relates to the protest.

Here is their paper on that

It does say the “short version” which is no lie. It seems to be an explanation looking for justification. The same ignoring of the traditional scientific method our academics seem to prefer these days.

The truth is the Protest had several factors.

It started with the loss of freedom being the main aspect. The fact people lost their jobs, their livelihoods and friend family members and assets. It then morphed into more of an anti government anti authoritarian protest when Mallard turned on the sprinklers and the police got heavy handed.This more than anything attracted a whole new load of protestors with bigger grudges to bare. This then attracted all sorts of people.

Blaming this on misinformation on Social Media is like blaming your little toe for colliding with the bed foot when you are rushing to go to the toilet in the middle of the night.

Propaganda and self promotion is the larger part of this organisation based on my investigation so far.


feel free to send any further info to refute this analysis



Loading spinner
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x