New strategy aims to preserve New Zealand’s proud sporting heritage

20/03/2015 by Steve Knowles

Sport NZ  has today launched a new Strategic Plan (2015-20) aimed at ensuring New Zealand remains one of the world’s most successful sporting nations.

Sport NZ Chief Executive Peter Miskimmin says New Zealand currently has high rates of participation in sport and recreation by both adults and young people, and an enviable record of winning on the world stage for a country our size. But he is sounding a warning for the future.

“New Zealand has a proud sporting heritage which stems from generations of Kiwis enjoying a wonderful, playful upbringing. This both sets us up for a lifelong love of sport and recreation and fuels our high performance system.

Back row from left to right Sport NZ CEO Peter Miskimmin, Black Stick Aniwaka Roberts, Pathway to Podium Athlete Brad Reid, Minister Coleman, Silver Fern Katrina Grant, High Performance Sport NZ CEO Alex Baumann.

“But we know that things are changing and we can’t assume we will always be a sporty, active nation.  Young people have increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Urbanisation and other societal trends are changing the way Kiwis participate. Technology is changing the way people interact with each other and people are fitting sport into increasingly busy lives. These are challenges for everyone in the sports sector, and we have to work hard if we are to preserve our sporting heritage.”

Miskimmin says the new Strategic Plan responds to these challenges, focusing on four key areas.

“The first focus area is young people.  We can’t afford to lose a generation of kids.  So our goal is to ensure they all gain a love of physical activity and sport at an early age, from which they are more likely to enjoy lifelong participation in sport and gain all the benefits that come with it.

“The second area is strengthening the local delivery of sport, especially in low-participation communities.  We want to get clubs, councils, schools, families and all those  involved in the local delivery of sport working more closely together.

“Thirdly, we will focus on ensuring our traditional competition pathways remain strong.  Many Kiwis still take part in sport through competitions organised by clubs and schools, so we need to make sure those are operating well.

“And fourthly, we will continue to drive high performance outcomes and achieve more winning on the world stage, through the great work of High Performance Sport NZ.”

The Strategic Plan also includes continuing support for major and mega events, facility planning, investment and development, improving sector capability and cross-government sport integrity work.

Miskimmin says the key to driving more participation and more winning on the world stage is a better understanding of the changing needs of participants.

“Our research tells us that what the sport system has traditionally offered is no longer meeting the needs of many people.  So we are putting participants at the heart of our decision-making.”

As part of today’s announcement Sport NZ is also launching a new Community Sport Strategy.

“To meet the growing challenge of retaining and growing participation, a step change in thinking and approach is required across Community Sport. High Performance Sport NZ already has a strategy in place through to 2020 which is ensuring we have a world-leading high performance system. This new Community Sport Strategy will do the same for Community Sport. It will ensure high numbers of adults and kids continue to participate, and that we continue to have a wide pipeline of talent through to high performance,” Miskimmin says.

Sport NZ’s General Manager of Community Sport Geoff Barry says the Community Sport Strategy is the culmination of five years of learning from evidence and research both here and overseas.

“We’ve engaged with people in our own sport sector, and with our international counterparts. We’ve seen that in many other parts of the world, including Australia, participation is declining. We can’t afford to be caught asleep at the wheel.”