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Child protection

Child protection

We all want tamariki and rangatahi to play and develop in a safe and supportive environment, where they’re encouraged to gain maximum enjoyment from what they are doing.

Sport NZ as a kaitiaki of the play, active recreation and sport system, is committed to supporting organisations to implement best practice to ensure the wellbeing of children and young people and ensure their involvement in play, active recreation and sport is kept fun, safe and inclusive for all.

The wellbeing and ability for children and young people to thrive in play, active recreation and sport also requires their safety and welfare is covered too. Children and young people have the right to be free from harm and abuse. Child safeguarding is the set of actions that organisations can take to keep them safe from harm. Child protection is an essential part of safeguarding and refers to the action taken in response to a specific concern for a child or children who may be suffering or is/are at risk of suffering harm or abuse. It requires referral to specialised child protection services, law enforcement agencies and expert local organisations that are trained to provide advice.

There are some laws in New Zealand that regulate child safety and we refer to those laws where appropriate.

Why it matters

Tamariki and rangatahi can be harmed through their experiences of play, active recreation and sport. This harm can include physical harm from engaging in a physical activity, emotional abuse, bullying, put-downs, inappropriate cultural practices, physical and sexual abuse, and other harmful practices. Harmful practices have no place in any children’s activity.

Providing a safe place for children is about balancing what children want to get from their activity experience while ensuring they are not subject to harm caused by an adverse social/or physical environment.

Sport NZ believes that:

  • Tamariki and rangatahi have the right to thrive and participate in play, active recreation and sport.
  • Tamariki and rangatahi’s partcipation in play active recreation and sport should support and promote the wellbeing of children.
  • Play, active recreation and sport organisations have a duty of care when it comes to children and should take steps to ensure that children can participate safely in the activities they provide.

We know that tamariki and rangatahi do not enjoy experiences where:

  • there is an over-emphasis on winning by both parents and coaches
  • only the best players get to play/participate consistently
  • some participants are favoured over others
  • they perceive not to be on good terms with the person in charge
  • they cannot participate with their friends
  • they fear being hurt
  • they don’t feel safe
  • they do not have enough fun
  • they don’t feel that they are improving or developing their skills.

Having the right safeguards in place will help you respond appropriately and keep play, active recreation and sport safe and fun for children.

It is also vital to ensuring that they have a safe and positive experience. This, in turn, will contribute to children choosing to remain active throughout their lives.

Having the right safeguards in place will help you to:

  • respond appropriately, with the knowledge and confidence to recruit responsibly, manage bullying and harassment, report concerns and much more
  • keep play, active recreation and sport safe and fun for tamariki and rangatahi
  • protect your organisation’s reputation and help make it a place where young people and their whanau will choose.

So, whatever your role in play, active recreation or sport, as a parent, coach, organiser, volunteer or young person, you should be familiar with your club or organisation's safeguarding policies and procedures. In particular, you should know how to respond to concerns around abuse or poor practice.

What your organisation can do


Have Child Safeguarding Policies and Procedures in place and understand what they mean.


Get a great base-level understanding of child safeguarding with the ‘Bite-sized modules’ learning.

Watch the webinar: Getting child safeguarding right

Complete the Child Protection in Play, Active Recreation and Sport e-learning module

These will help you to:

  • make a commitment to being a Child Safe organisation
  • have a designated Child Safeguarding Rep and make sure everyone in your club knows who they are and what they do
  • recruit staff and volunteers more safely
  • assess safeguarding practices in your organisation
  • maintain and embed safeguards in your organisation.

Understand your obligations:

Choose the right training

Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 (previously called Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1989)

Crimes Act 1961- protection of children

Children's Act 2014

More child protection guidance


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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