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Sector Update

23 February 2023

Kia ora koutou,

We recognise this is a very challenging time for many across the sector.

The localised effects of recent severe weather have caused terrible consequences in some parts of the North Island. To those affected, our thoughts are with you and your whānau, and to those in the sector focussed on recovery operations, we will do whatever we can to support you.

We face a real balancing act at this time. In some places, physical activity is able to continue as normal while other areas are grappling with challenges around limited communication, restricted access to facilities and basic essentials such as water and food.

Sport NZ’s approach thus far has been to prioritise safety and wellbeing, however we have a team working both centrally and on the ground to understand immediate relief opportunities. We are also working with RSTs to understand any urgent financial support that may be required with those RSTs taking the lead on assessing and responding to local needs.

As we move through the phases of recovery, we will provide further details of any additional support available. You can also find details below of people support and counselling services.

We know play, recreation and sport play a critical role in community and individual wellbeing, and this will be especially true within those communities most affected. We’ll continue to work quickly and collaboratively with impacted regions to help ensure physical activity can continue.

For now, look after yourselves and those close to you, and know we are here to support you.

Nga mihi and kia kaha,
Raelene Castle

People Support available for the sector 

Employee Assistance through Vitae Sport NZ provides the sector with access to an employee assistance programme through our partner Vitae. They provide up to three free counselling sessions for people who need support.  

We strongly encourage leaders to make their teams know that it is available, if you don’t already have your own equivalent type of service in place. This is available to all employees, coaches and volunteers in the sector. 
Vitae can be contacted on 0508 664 981 or via  - please reference Sport NZ. Vitae offer a free and completely confidential service for people who feel they require some independent and expert support. 

Vitae have also put together a helpful tip sheet around supporting your employees after a flood event. 

MyHR Webinar on crisis response

In addition, MyHR has put together this webinar What to do in a crisis: Responding to Cyclone Gabrielle and these FAQs to quickly troubleshoot the questions they’re receiving most from their clients on how to manage their obligations as an employer while responding to a natural disaster.

Guidance on resilience 

Organisational Psychologist Dr Alia Bojilova recently joined Aktive for their Sector Forum.  Following this she developed the attached document which provides guidance around resilience, noting that it is not an infinite resource and requires conscious, deliberate nurturing.  We are grateful to Alia for allowing us to share this resource.

Play in Crises Resources 

Acknowledging that some communities and regions across the motu are doing it tough at the moment from the impacts of the extreme weather events, we’re grateful for Sport Canterbury sharing these resources they have developed around the power of play in crises, together with Healthy Families Ōtautahi Christchurch. 

Sport Canterbury have developed these reports together with many of their local stakeholders as part of a larger piece of work with Sport NZ around the power play can have in communities that have been affected by various crises.  

While these resources may not be directly transferrable to some areas or regions, there are some helpful tips and findings that may support some of the regions and areas that have been heavily impacted by recent events.  

This broader piece of work will include additional resources in the future on  play in crises that can be used and implemented across the motu in ways that work for dedicated communities. We will share updates as this Kaupapa progresses. 


Helping girls get and stay active – sharing the impacts of the Young Women's Activation Fund 

Sport NZ’s Young Women’s Activation Fund delivered $2m of funding in 2019 towards nine projects supporting participation and leadership initiatives for young women to be physically active. The investment was one of our original 24 commitments supporting the participation outcome of the Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation Strategy. 

Those nine projects wrapped up at the end of last year, and we are excited to share case studies showcasing the great mahi that was delivered with this funding and the difference it has made for young women and communities across the motu. Look out for new stories on the Sport NZ website and in each Sector Update newsletter from now until June. 

Igniting Hope Across Diverse Communities 

This month’s case study is about how Ignite Sport Trust is supporting young women to get a fresh start through two of their funded programmes. Fusion provides three-day programmes for young female former refugees seeking to find their feet in New Zealand, while Oho Ake supports young people who are facing challenges to their wellbeing. Both programmes have a common goal – to build confidence and resilience in young women and, most importantly, to provide hope. Read the story here.

Young woman throwing a ball into a hoop in a gym

New play investment into local government 

Sport NZ recently announced new investment of $4.3 million into a project that will help councils across Aotearoa highlight the value of play for tamariki and whānau wellbeing.  

The investment includes creating 18 new Local Play Advocate roles inside local councils over the next four years. Each Regional Sports Trust (RST) region will get one of these roles within the project lifespan and Sport NZ will fund each role for two years.   

The funding is part of the Local Play Workforce Project, developed by Sport NZ to build and train a dedicated workforce of play professionals. The new roles will add to the current workforce and mahi of Regional Play System Leads based in RSTs. The project applies learning drawn from pilots delivered over three years in Hamilton, Auckland and Christchurch, and leverages Regional Sports Trusts relationships in local government.  

The project is a key action from Kia Hīanga, Sport NZ’s bicultural Play Plan and strategy to create the space and time and permission for play across our neighbourhoods and cities. In doing so, we will create better quality experiences for tamariki and encourage their ongoing participation in physical activity. 

You can find out more in our press release


Case study - It just takes one person to be brave enough 

Sport NZ’s Integrity Guidance Portal hosts a range of resources and policy and procedure templates to help keep play, active recreation and sport safe, fair and inclusive at every level and for all ages.  

One of the key focus areas in the integrity framework relates to child safeguarding.  

For South Canterbury Rugby Union club manager Tristram Johnston, the conversation around child safeguarding was sparked in 2019 as he sat in a workshop run by New Zealand Rugby. 

Since that time, Tristram has helped mobilise the community in South Canterbury into a slick Safe Spaces operation where volunteers, coaches and parents play an important role in keeping sport safe for everyone. 

Read the full story on the Integrity portal’s new case study section here


New Zealand Sport and Recreation Awards open next week 

Entries will open on Monday 27 February for the annual New Zealand Sport and Recreation Awards.  

Every year, individuals and organisations throughout Aotearoa New Zealand are making outstanding contributions to enhance people’s lives through physical activity.  

The NZ Sport and Recreation Awards look to recognise the best of this work and celebrate excellence and leadership in the sector.  

There are five categories open to nominations: Commercial Partnership, Community Impact, Leadership in Diversity and Inclusion, Jim Maniapoto Memorial Taonga – Excellence in impacting Māori participation as Māori and the Suzie Simcock Future Leader Award.  

Nominations are easy. Check out the awards portal from Monday for more information on how to submit an entry and to learn more about each of the award categories for 2023. 


Webinar: Hear about the future of Integrity in Sport and Recreation, and the development of a national code of integrity    

Join the Integrity Transition Programme to hear about the future of Integrity in Sport and Recreation, and the development of a national code of integrity. 

The team is starting work to develop a national code of integrity for the sport and recreation sector, and they’d like to tell you more about it in upcoming sector sessions or via a webinar, scheduled for 8 March.   
“In the last few weeks, we’ve had some great sessions with the sector to talk about the Code, its development, and about the wider work we’re leading to strengthen the overall integrity system. We’ve got more sessions scheduled in the next few weeks which you’ve likely been invited to. We’d love to see you at one of these, but if you can’t make your session, the webinar is open to all,” says Programme Director Rebecca Rolls.  

“The Code will be a cornerstone for the way integrity issues are addressed in the future, and we want the whole sector to be involved in its development.” 
Please attend a session or join the webinar and learn more about how you can contribute to the Code and wider kaupapa to strengthen integrity.  
Webinar time and date: 7.00 to 8:00pm, Wednesday, 8 March 2023  
For more information and to register, click here. The webinar will be recorded and available for viewing on the Integrity Transition Programme website.   
If you’d like more information about the sector sessions we’ve scheduled, please get in touch with the Programme team at    


Applications for He Puna Korikori - the 6th round of the Outdoor Activity Fund 

Applications are now open for He Puna Korikori - the 6th round of the Outdoor Activity Fund – a joint Recreation Aotearoa and Sport NZ fund supporting outdoor activities for rangatahi.  

The fund looks to support activities that: 

  • promote health and wellbeing 
  • foster a sense of community and belonging 
  • increase access to recreation activities for rangatahi.  

Applications will be accepted until 12 March 2023 – for more information check out the link here

This is a bi-cultural fund with funds split between tangata whenua and tangata tiriti. 

Group of rangatahi paddling along a river

Women in Governance Talent Pool  

An important part of creating diversity and gender equity in play, active recreation and sporting boards is ongoing access to governance talent. Appoint Better Boards continue to provide a free access to a talent pool of over 200 women in governance looking to serve as directors on sector boards. If you have any questions or require support for board member or chair recruitment, please email  

If you require an accessible version of any content on the site please contact us and we will be happy to assist.

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