The launch of this regional strategy in 2016 was initially a plan with a ten-year focus made up of three horizons and an end date of 2025 – hence the first iteration of the strategy being name Moving Waikato 2025.
In late 2019 and into the early part of 2020, Sport Waikato headed up a review of the first horizon objectives by forming a cross -sector Moving Waikato 2025 Advisory group made up of representatives from the health, sport and education sectors, along with Iwi and local council members.
The key outtakes of this review were that the evidenced-based, partnered approach which forms the bedrock of the strategy remain valid, and are beginning to have an impact with better informed decisions being made across the region in all settings.
The three pillars of the strategy – Our People, Building Communities and Regional Leadership also remain valid and capture the essence of the strategy in respect that a locally-led approach supported by informed regional partnerships is what will improve the provision of quality physical activity opportunities for our communities.
What has changed as a result of the review is that the indicative end date of 2025, in recognition that Moving Waikato can and should be an iterative strategy that continuously evolves over time. The specific focuses of each of the three pillars has been updated and will see the next four-year horizon focussing on the 0-18 age group, Maaori, women and girls and the disadvantaged within our communities.
The last significant update is that as lead partner in this regional strategy, Sport Waikato has also adopted Moving Waikato as its own organisational strategy to guide its mahi (work) under our newly revised way of working. The vision and ten-year goal of both Moving Waikato and Sport Waikato now align – ‘Everyone out there and active’ with an aspirational growth target of 75% of the region regularly being active.
Through Sport Waikato’s women and girls initiative, This is ME®, we have continued to support, encourage and celebrate women and girls of all ages getting out there and being active THEIR way. In 2020, there were a number of key highlights and achievements:
SUPPORTING DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
Over the past 12 month we have been working with Sport NZ and the University of Waikato to conduct research into the barriers, motivations and experiences of Muslim women and girls in sport and recreation. The project included the voices and stories of 38 Muslim females and 14 sports managers (e.g. coaches, administrators, programme leads), with the aim to uncover both the challenges Muslim women face in sport and recreation and strategies to support increases in inclusive delivery practices.
From the research, two academic journal articles have been published, a national report has been created and a local workshop delivered with attendance from over 60 sport and recreation leaders in the Waikato region and beyond.
Sport Waikato are now building further on this important work alongside a local group of young Muslim women with the aim of increasing sporting opportunities.
WORKING WITH YOUNG WOMEN
In 2020 we have continued our work in the secondary school space with leadership development among young women and initiating policy and delivery change. This year has seen the This is ME® Secondary School Programme delivered into Waihi College, Paeroa College and Piopio College as well as discussions underway with Cambridge High School, Forest View High School and Putaruru College for 2021 delivery.
Covid-19 presented a number of challenges in the secondary school space this year, but overall, there remains appetite to work together to increase sport and physical activity participation among young women.
PARTNERED ACTIVATIONS AND DELIVERY CHANGE
With the aim of increasing the quality and quantity of opportunities for women and girls to be active, This is ME® has partnered with a number of National and Regional Sporting Organisations and local providers to effect change in delivery to ensure it meets the needs of females.
Our work in 2020 has included a continued partnership with Northern Districts Cricket Association which saw planning for the second year of the Backyard Smash – a modified version of the sport that eliminates many of the barriers to female participation (e.g. hard balls, fast bowlers, long days in the field). In 2020, 200 women registered to participate (up from 120 in 2019) but the event was unfortunately, postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic.
A capability building workshop was delivered to New Zealand Volleyball with the aim of increasing understandings of the needs of women and girls and we are currently in the process of creating an online learning portal to share further the insights we have gleaned about supporting women and girls to be active.
Other partnered activations have included have-a-go golf sessions, Pink Walks for Breast Cancer Awareness month, and Boxing and Squash sessions for young women.
The Waikato Regional Sports Facilities Plan continued to provide valued leadership and direction to the planning and development of sports facilities across the Waikato region. 2020 has seen the development of the third iteration of the Plan in consultation with the Plan Advisory Group and Plan stakeholders (e.g. regional sports organisations, Mayors, Council CEs and technical staff, recreation providers). The 2020 iteration of the Plan will see an expanded scope beyond just a focus on sport to include play (infrastructure such as playgrounds and skateparks) and recreation (walking and cycling tracks and trails).
The Plan continues to focus on supporting sound investment and decision-making about new facilities developments, whilst also maintaining a focus on optimising existing spaces, places and facilities in ways that make possible the increased sustainability of the network.
A key principle of the plan - collaboration - has been shown through projects such as the Te Kuiti High School Indoor Court project, the Matamata College indoor court development, and more recent conversations between Hamilton City Council, Waipa and Waikato District Councils, Waikato Tainui and the University of Waikato about facilities developments in the Northern Growth Corridor.
The 2020 iteration of the Plan, which will feature a name change to the Waikato Regional Active Spaces Plan, will be presented to the CE forum for endorsement in December, in time for upcoming LTP discussions.
Alongside the regional plan, Sport Waikato have also either completed, or are in the process of developing local district plans with eight of the region’s ten Territorial Local Authorities. These plans sit underneath the regional plan, providing guidance to local facilities projects and priorities.
Sport Waikato continue to acknowledge and thank the Waikato Mayoral Forum, Local Authority Partners and Sport New Zealand for their continued support and advocacy of facilities, spaces and places planning across the Waikato region.
As longstanding Waikato District Health Board funded programme Project Energize and Ministry of Health funded Under 5 Energize draw to a close, the final year of delivery continued to embed philosophies of increased physical activity and healthy eating within educational institutions throughout the region.
Throughout Covid-19 lockdown and with schools closed, the Energize and Under 5 Energize teams worked to deliver their healthy messages in innovative ways using digital platforms. Videos were developed to encourage easy, low cost options for children to be active with their whaanau at home.
Our Secondary Schools team was kept busy during the Covid-19 lockdown and beyond through alert levels helping the Waikato Secondary School Sports Association and member schools navigate their way through the various sporting regulations and restrictions imposed both locally and nationally. This challenging time for Rangatahi and their participation in sport and physical activity was made easier through clear communication and informed decision making.
The Active & Well team has continued to service clients and whaanau across the region who require advice and support in achieving a healthier lifestyle to enhance their wellbeing outcomes.
Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown made it difficult to maintain client contact and virtual consults became usual practice as the team tried to encourage clients to maintain healthy lifestyle gains using the positive aspects of the lockdown period including car-f ree streets and extra time in the local neighbourhood for exercising.
2020 threw up a number of challenges for the sport and recreation sector, and when sport was ready to return, Sport Waikato reacted to the need for volunteers with a new video campaign called ‘Support Local Sport’, featuring local and national sporting celebrities encouraging communities to get in behind sport and do their bit.
Launched during National Volunteer Week, the ‘pass it on’ type campaign featured celebrities such as former Olympic cyclist Sarah Ulmer, rugby league legend Tawera Nikau, boxer David Nyika, All Black captain Sam Cane and The Crowd Goes Wild’s James McOnie, among others.
The video campaign not only raised awareness of the need for volunteers, but also linked both to a registration form and to Volunteering Waikato who were providing f ree registration for clubs to register their volunteer roles.
This year in conjunction with Exult, Sport Waikato also ran an online workshop series ‘Growing Your Volunteer Teams’ aimed at guiding and supporting clubs and other sporting or active recreation organisations to build their volunteer base and capability. Participants were taught how to evaluate, grow and provide a quality volunteer experience for new volunteers. The workshop series was well received.
The 2020 financial year saw Sport Waikato involved in administering several funding initiatives through our partnership with Sport NZ. We said farewell to the old KiwiSport fund with our last distributions being made in June.
KiwiSport has now been replaced with a new fund, Tu Manawa, which for the Waikato region, is twice the size and targets the participant directly by supporting delivery providers across play, active recreation and sport. The fund has a strong emphasis on supporting Tamariki and Rangatahi, Maaori providers and deprivation with the first tranche of funds due to be distributed by the end of November 2020.
In addition to KiwiSport and Tu Manawa, Sport Waikato were pleased to be able to support Sport NZ with the distribution of their Community Resilience Fund, a direct response to the hardship caused by Covid-19 on the sport and recreation sector. Between June and September, we were able to distribute a total of $1.63M to impacted organisations across the region and are proud to have been involved in the Government response to Covid-19 in our sector.
Sport Waikato worked to implement the Regional Cycle Safety Education Plan alongside partners f rom all local authorities, Waikato Regional Council, NZTA, Cycling NZ and the Home of Cycling. The vision of the plan is a community that has opportunities to safely ride a bike, with a goal of a collaborated approach to the delivery of cycling skills and Bikes in Schools projects across the region.
Selected target schools had full support f rom Sport Waikato’s Lead Advisor in order to complete their Bikes in Schools project, with priority going to those schools with a commitment to cycling skill delivery, numbers of students and where there will be wider benefits to the community as well as where students have a limited access to bikes and cycling skills education.
In total, seven new projects have been completed and a further nine schools have their project underway as a result of this intervention. Effectively, the implementation of this part of the plan has resulted in the Waikato region having equitable distribution of Bikes in Schools projects across all districts, enabling access and safe student cycle safety to occur.
BikeReady is the New Zealand national education cycling system developed by NZTA. The benefits of BikeReady is an increase in those developing safe road skills early on, empathetic road users, cycling as viable transport as well as more active and healthy communities.
Bike Ready focuses on providing more opportunities for all to engage in cycling skills to be lifelong learners. The system speaks to quality, consistent delivery and sustainability by enabling students and stakeholders to extend learning around bike riding or sharing the road.
Through implementation of the Plan by Sport Waikato’s Lead Advisor, a pilot delivery of BikeReady within high need areas of the Waikato region has been funded for Term 1 of 2021, and Youthtown have been identified and are mobilising as the preferred delivery partner of this.
The disruption of Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown meant that this year’s planned nine District Sports Awards November events had to be cancelled, along with the Brian Perry Waikato Regional Sports Awards to be held in January 2021.
With the lack of sport being played and the inability to fairly judge winners who may not have been able to compete internationally or nationally, as well as the financial pressure on our sponsors who play a big part in funding the events, Sport Waikato made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 awards season.
The cancellation of our traditional awards season gave us the opportunity to think differently and celebrate and acknowledge the good things that were happening in the community, just in a different way.
The 2020 Waikato Sport & Active Recreation Awards were launched on 28 August 2020. Sport Waikato wanted to take the opportunity to look beyond just winning and celebrate and acknowledge the sporting moments, the partnerships, the initiatives, the outside the box thinkers, and those who do amazing things in our communities to keep us all active.
Seven categories were developed: Community Connection, Sport & Active Recreation Partnerships, Outstanding Active Space Initiative, Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion, Service to Sport (traditional), and two People’s Choice awards – Sportsperson and Sporting or Active Recreation Moment.
For such a new and different target audience, we were impressed with the 85 entries to this awards format, run on a dedicated website with even the judging happening online this year.
Entries were judged by local sport and recreation advocates Honey Hireme-Smiler (athlete, Halberg Inclusion), Glyn Wooller (GM Waikato River Trails Trust) and Graeme ‘Mintie’ Mead (radio announcer, JP, celebrant).
Finalists will be announced in January 2021, with winners publicised at a special online event Thursday 28 January 2021.
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