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It’s time to Push Play - Again!

25 May 2022

Sport New Zealand launches physical activity campaign to encourage nation to get moving again after COVID disruption.

Sport NZ is relaunching its iconic Push Play campaign - aiming to get New Zealanders up and down the country to add more movement into their day to day lives.

In a nod back to the original Push Play campaign from the 1990s, this rendition invites New Zealanders to Push Play ‘Again’ but with an updated narrative relevant for 2022.

Physical activity levels dropped significantly in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, with adults doing 16% fewer hours. New research from Sport NZ’s Active NZ survey shows that while physical activity rates have rebounded to some degree, it isn’t happening across the board, with some New Zealanders still struggling to get back into the swing of things.

The survey also shows that motivation is still proving to be a key barrier, so the campaign focuses on encouraging kiwis to make the most of local, affordable ways to stay active – without putting a number on how much activity is enough.

Sport NZ Chief Executive, Raelene Castle, says it’s not about what activity you do, or for how long - just take any opportunity to move, more often.

“We’ve seen physical activity drop during COVID-19. Now that there are more freedoms, people are getting back to it – but some groups are still doing less, and we want to see that change.”

“Young people are still not as active as before and people in hardship are more affected. We’re encouraging New Zealanders to take a step towards more activity for all the benefits it can bring – physical and mental – and simply in many cases, for the fun of it.”

Deputy Director of Public Health, Dr Harriette Carr, says regular physical activity is incredibly important for general wellbeing and for the prevention and management of many health conditions.

“This is especially important as we all deal with the disruptions that COVID-19 has caused to our usual routines and way of life.

“Evidence suggests that you are more likely to continue doing an activity if it is part of your daily routine and you enjoy it – and doing a range of activities is also important to maximise the benefits and reduce the risk of injuries.

“I encourage everyone to do what they can based on their abilities and circumstances and, as ‘Push Play’ has always emphasised, to have fun.”

Raelene Castle says the campaign is about making physical activity simple and achievable.

“Whether that’s walking, online classes or reconnecting with your local sports club. We’re encouraging all New Zealanders to ‘Push Play’ in whatever ways work for them.”

The Push Play campaign features three families in which tamariki take the lead role as coaches and personal trainers to the adults in their lives. Movement is depicted as anything that gets you physically active, and even better if that’s outside in nature. It can be recreation-focused, formal or informal sport or even just playing. Anything counts!

Petra Bagust, Push Play ambassador says:

“How we Push Play changes throughout our lives, just like we do, and of course the lifestyle changes we went through in Covid had a massive impact on our routines.

“The way I play and move my body now is different from when I was featured in the original Push Play campaign in 1999, but what hasn’t changed in the last 23 years are the many benefits of getting moving.

“It’s not necessarily about committing to a lofty fitness goal, this is about day to day health and reaping the mental, physical and emotional benefits of being more active, more often.”

Tawera Nikau, Push Play ambassador says:

“Getting out and getting moving is important for us all. It doesn’t matter if you’re throwing a rugby ball around in the backyard or heading out hunting with your mates, it’s all the little things we do in our day to day lives to keep us active, that add up.

“I encourage every Kiwi to think about what Push Play means to them – no matter how big or little – and just get out and do more of that, more often.”

Monty Betham, Push Play ambassador says:

“Movement is an important part of the Kiwi way, but it’s been a challenging couple of years to keep up the motivation.

“When I lack motivation, I double up on discipline, knowing the importance of movement for me personally.

“In order to Push Play, I just encourage every Kiwi to find their own way of moving. Start small if you have to, and stay small if you feel it’s right. Moving is what’s key - consistency over intensity for me - remember you can only ever get momentum from an initial movement.”



For media enquiries and more information please contact:

Beccy Churchill
Senior Consultant, MSL New Zealand on behalf of Sport New Zealand / +64 20 41962752

Michelle Pickles
Group Media Manager, Sport New Zealand / +64 21 833 244


About the 2020 Active NZ Effects of COVID research:

Sport NZ, together with Academics from Victoria University of Wellington, conducted the study following a series of surveys of between 2,500 – 4,500 adults, 18 years and older. The surveys were conducted between April 2020 and April 2021. Key findings:

● Weekly participation in physical activity dropped by 3.4%

● The average number of hours spent being physically active dropped by 15.6%

● The average number of sports and activities participated in dropped by 22.1%

● The proportion of adults meeting the physical activity guidelines dropped by 8.3%

Download the academic paper with the full set of findings here.


Key findings from the soon-to-be-released 2021 Active NZ research:

• The average number of hours spent doing physical activity among adults recovered to similar levels to 2019, however the change was seen in some demographic sub-groups and not others

• Inequity increased in some demographic groups, such as Pasifika, which showed no improvement across the four key participation indicators

• Barriers to participation increased in 2021 for adults with more feeling too tired, struggling for motivation, falling out of the habit, or feeling too unfit to increase their participation

• Weekly participation for young people dropped by 3.2% when compared with 2019 levels

Learn more about Sport NZ’s response to the pandemic here


About Push Play

Push Play was launched by the Hillary Commission in 1999 with the objective of getting all New Zealanders to undertake a minimum of 2.5 hours per week of moderate intensity physical activity. This was in response to a report released by the U.S. Surgeon-General in 1996 showing that significant health benefits could be obtained from 30 minutes of physical activity on most days. The 2022 Push Play campaign focuses on movement more holistically, noting that people are doing less post-Covid and motivation is a key barrier. It recognises that healthy habits are easy to break and harder to recreate. The campaign encourages New Zealanders to ‘play’ their way, making physical activity seem natural, enjoyable and within reach.

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