Responding and adapting to change

In May 2019, Sport NZ began looking into the future of play, active recreation, and sport in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In today’s world of accelerating change, we need to be well positioned to respond and adapt to changes, and to think and act longer-term. Influences such as climate change, advances in technology, changes in society, are shaping the future of our sector. The COVID-19 global pandemic is the most recent, and wide-reaching, influence that we are having to deal with. 

Through our futures work, we are gaining a better understanding about the drivers of change and the possible implications of change. We’re assessing our assumptions about the future and using the opportunity to explore what the future could look like for the sector. Ultimately, we want this work to help us think about a range of possible futures, especially what we call the “preferred future” – and what we can do to prepare for it.

Progress to date  

In the second half of 2020, we facilitated and funded a process that allowed sector stakeholders to collaborate and focus our thinking on the future. Involving over 100 individuals from sector organisations, this work involved two working streams – Te Tuarā Futures Group and the Futures Working Group – providing a Māori specific view and a general view. 

The two working groups were guided by a set of environmental scans, which identified the drivers of change and possible implications for play, active recreation and sport. The working groups used these scans to develop their perspectives and produce progress reports, which lets us look at the futures material in more depth. 

We have consulted with a wide range of sector stakeholders to ensure we consider all perspectives. This has included broad sector consultation, via a five-question survey, and external participant group workshops and webinars.

The survey, run by the market research company Kantar, was open throughout October 2020 and had 439 responses. Read the key findings from this survey. 

The feedback from the external participant groups was considered by the Te Tuarā Futures Group and the Futures Working Group, alongside inputs from broader membership groups.

The workshops with these groups were held between August and December 2021. Find out more about the learnings and key themes in the following reports.

Te Tuarā and Working Group progress reports

Further thinking

Further reports draw together the key themes and provide prompts for further thinking. 

Man and boy running on beach with a model aeroplane

The preferred future

Through our collaborative process, we have identified a preferred future where:  

  • physical activity is part of a much larger wellbeing agenda 
  • culture and identity are important 
  • communities are empowered to find local solutions within a high-trust model 
  • there is high collaboration between system agents (including central, regional and local government) to achieve shared goals for the wellbeing of all New Zealanders 
  • boundaries and silos are broken down.

The value in a preferred future 

 Having a preferred future is hugely important for the sector, so we can shape the future of play, active recreation and sport in Aotearoa New Zealand. Through developing a preferred future, we have: 

  • achieved consensus on what matters most to New Zealanders and a shared view about a way forward 
  • been able to be explicit about the things we value and should not take for granted 
  • put ethics at the core of our problem solving. The challenges we face today are profoundly ethical, which means we need to address universal ethical principles such as, human dignity, social justice freedom, equality, the common good and shared wellbeing. 
  • learned from the past and identified what we want to restore and protect for future generations 
  • brought new people and voices together to explore intersecting interests and found common ground 
  • listened to, learned from, and incorporated diverse cultural perspectives and a strong Māori voice 
  • considered the rights of future generations and the intergenerational fairness of current policies through the youth voice 
  • opened a conversation about multiple possibilities, and stretched people to think beyond short-term pressures and current concerns and interests 
  • questioned environmental, social, and economic assumptions about the future and gave people the confidence to challenge the present state. 

Find out more about the significance of the futures work and preferred future: 

Where to from here? 

Now that we have arrived at an agreed preferred future, Sport NZ will work with sector organisations to assist them to make sense of that future from their perspective and take actions to bring it to life.  

To help organisations understand and respond to the preferred future, we will add new resources and examples of the preferred future to our website over the coming months.  

We will continue to monitor the key drivers of change and assumptions, and where required, carry out further environmental scans. 

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