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Active NZ: Changes in Participation

Active NZ: Changes in Participation

This report provides an update on the main participation indicators inplay, active recreation, and sport in 2022 for New Zealanders aged 5-plus. It highlights changes in ways of participating and types of sports and activities participated in, as wellaschanges in barriers to participating and in selected attitudes. 


  • The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to impact on people’s participation levels and preferences in 2022. Participation in organised activity bore the brunt, affecting the population groups most reliant on organised participation for their overall activity levels.  
  • The pandemic affected young people more than adults, males more than females, and increased inequities in the system for Māori and Pacific and people from high deprivation areas. 
  • A watching brief will be in place for how well participation in competitions or tournaments recovers for rangatahi. This is particularly important considering the weakening we have seen in the relationship rangatahi have with organised participation. 


  • Participation for tamariki aged between 5 and 11 is most improved. Weekly participation has returned to pre-COVID levels, and the increase in time spent being active each week in 2021 has been sustained in 2022. 
  • The recovery by tamariki is primarily driven by males who were most affected by COVID-19’s disruption to organised activity. 
  • Although young Asian have lower levels of participation overall, the amount of time they spend being active has increased from 7.4 hours to 7.8 hours between 2018 and 2021, to 9.2 hours in 2022. 
  • Disabled tamariki have higher weekly participation in 2022 (93 percent, compared with 83 percent in2021). 


  • The picture is the reverse for rangatahi. Weekly participation has not returned to pre-COVID levels, with poorer results on the key participation statistics in 2022 compared with 2021. 
  • Weekly participation in competition remains below pre-COVID levels. 
  • There is a continued downward trend in enjoyment of PE and the proportion of rangatahi continuing with PE when it is no longer compulsory. 
  • Club membership also continues to decline and there is increasing preference by older rangatahi to be active in flexible ways that meet their schedule.   
  • Rangatahi displayed a stronger preference to do “other things”; for example, many agreed that electronic games are more exciting than real-life games. 


  • In 2022 the proportion of adults participating each week follows the stable pattern evident since 2017. The spike in time spent being active, average number of sports and activities participated in, and proportion meeting the physical activity guidelines seen in 2021 has not been sustained and in 2022, all falling to pre-COVID levels. 
  • Despite these declines in adult participation, their appetite to be more active is at its highest (8 out of 10), and there has been year on year increases in agreement on the importance of being active for emotional and physical wellbeing since 2019. 

You can view the full Changes in Participation report, along with the comprehensive national data tables and FAQs, via the links below. The technical report, regional data tables, and all other supporting resources will be released throughout August 2023 on this page. 

Report and data tables
xlsx xlsx - 7172 KB
Additional reports and support
pdf pdf - 4518 KB
pdf pdf - 95 KB

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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