Chair/Chief Executive Report

On behalf of the Sport Waikato Board and staff, we are delighted to present you the 2019 Sport Waikato Annual Report. As we conclude another decade, the underlying theme of why foundation CEO John Parker and key trustees Paul Fear and Brian Perry turned their dream into reality is still relevant – “Help people to help themselves” via play, active recreation and sport.

  • Our vision at Sport Waikato is – ‘Everyone out there and active’

  • Our purpose – to facilitate the growth of a healthy, vibrant, physically active and successful Waikato sporting region

Underpinning our mahi; our call to action to lead, enable and influence the lives of many in the Waikato region via play, active recreation and sport are two beautiful Tongikura (a prophetic saying, normally recited by a leader) gifted by Waikato Tainui and we are very grateful for that. Ngaa mihi nui (thank you very much).

It is pertinent to again on an annual basis on this very platform to refresh ourselves on these gifts.
The first, from Kingi Potatau Te Wherowhero in 1858, is based on ‘teamwork’; working together we can all achieve a common goal:

“Kotahi te kohao o te ngira e kuhuna ai te miro ma, te miro whero, te miro pango”
Translated – “There is but one eye of the needle through which the white, red and black threads must pass”

The second, from Te Puea Herangi in the middle of last century, who simply put action is better than words and this matriarch certainly led by action:

“Mahia te mahi hei painga mo te iwi”
Translated – “Do the work for the betterment of the people”

Current Landscape

The region’s and Sport Waikato’s strategy for play, active recreation and sport, Moving Waikato 2025 has just completed its first three-year horizon which the Moving Waikato 2025 Advisory Group is now reviewing.

The strategy focuses on three strategic objectives:

  1. Our People | Growing participation

  2. Building Communities | Developing capability

  3. Regional Leadership | Partnering and evidence via insights

The two high level focuses for Sport Waikato throughout 2019 have been to review the first horizon of Moving Waikato 2025 – our 10-year plan for play, active recreation and sport - as well as gearing ourselves appropriately to align to our cornerstone partner, Sport New Zealand and their new strategic direction. Specifically, Sport New Zealand for the next four years will see a more dedicated focus towards tamariki (5-11 year olds) and rangatahi (12-18 year olds).

The danger for many is trying to cover too many bases rather than defining what is core business and then get good at it. We are excited about the next phase with Sport New Zealand and believe our strategic shift in 2016 has been a real positive, and importantly, a catalyst for this Regional Sports Trust (RST) in defining and zoning in on its who, its why and its how!

The world is evolving quickly and we realise here at Sport Waikato that business as usual (BAU) needs to be appropriately tested and evaluated. Part of that query always has the lens over it which we believe captures evolution nicely – “respect the past | relevant for the future”. We are an RST that is focused on a system-led approach. Our people provide expertise in their field. We exist to enable a quality of experience for those who simply want to play and have fun, be involved in active recreation or participate in organised sport in the Waikato region.

We believe at times our role is to challenge and maybe even disrupt existing systems and structures in the region, while always linking our support and approach to improvement and a more sustainable, relevant Waikato play, active recreation and sport system. Sustainability must be front and centre for future state; a system-led approach for Sport Waikato is the key for this RST to play its role alongside those who are experts in delivery.

We have also kept a close eye on the triennial Local Government elections in October 2019, where the Waikato region sees four new Mayors, a new Chairman at the Waikato Regional Council and several new Councillors around our metro Council, nine District Councils and the Waikato Regional Council.
We congratulate all these elected, both new and incumbents. We also thank those who have retired or were unsuccessful in re-election for their contribution to public service. We have always enjoyed a fantastic relationship with our Territorial Authorities who not only support our District Coordinator model but are heavily involved with Sport Waikato in regional facility planning, localised sport and recreation plans and partnering to influence. We also acknowledge the Waikato Mayoral Forum’s strategic role over the last 12 months and their openness to include Sport Waikato for input and updates on the world of play, active recreation and sport.

Sport Waikato continues to evolve, learn and embrace its own journey related to internal cultural capability. This focus forms an important part of Moving Waikato 2025 from a growth in participation and capability development angle. The ideal state is to work with our five Iwi in the region and to have a clear strategy for all Maaori across the greater Waikato region. To do that, Sport Waikato recognises the importance, if we are to facilitate and lead, of being culturally capable.

With the support of our Kaumatua, Pokaia Nepia, and our internal Roopu Maanaki, we are now guided by an implementation plan linked to an Internal Cultural Capability Strategy. We are extremely proud of all Sport Waikato staff for their commitment to grow their awareness of Te Ao Maaori and Tikanga. This year we have seen clear growth in our own offices, be it through the welcoming of new staff members with a whakatau or the appropriate blessings of kai and huis. The pinnacle of the year has been the development of our own Sport Waikato waiata.

Our commitment to increase the offer and opportunity for all women and girls in the Waikato region to play, recreate and be involved in sport however and whenever they choose is gaining real momentum under Sport Waikato’s ‘This is ME®’ initiative, which was activated in 2017 through pilots in the Waitomo and Hauraki districts.

This targeted approach is integral within Moving Waikato 2025, where we have recognised that females are less active than their male counterparts for a variety of both personal and practical reasons, and have made a commitment to supporting women and girls to break down the barriers to move more.
In 2019, we were delighted to learn that we were successful in tendering a proposal via the Government and Sport New Zealand’s Young Women’s Activation Fund to regionally scale our This is ME® secondary schools programme over the next three years. The programme focuses on working in and with secondary schools and with young women themselves to increase the number of physical activity opportunities that are relevant and meaningful to young women.


We have recently welcomed a new Trustee, Jacqui Gage-Brown to our Sport Waikato Board. Jacqui brings strong strategic marketing and commercial skills to our board table to support and complete our diverse range of skillsets and experience.

The Sport Waikato Board has been fortunate to have two Trustees in Alan Livingston and Brian Hanna who have had long time involvement in Local Government up until the elections this year, and their contribution, experience and knowledge from this sector to our Board table continues to be invaluable. 
We would like to acknowledge and thank all the Trustees for their ongoing commitment and the value they individually and collectively contribute to the governance of Sport Waikato. Their contribution ensures Sport Waikato has strong governance to support the strategic direction as we deliver on Moving Waikato 2025 and the other key strategic initiatives highlighted in this report.

Financial Result

In 2019 Sport Waikato came close to achieving its KPI of all programme budgets breaking even, with only three programme budgets having small deficits. New revenues were secured during the year and Sport Waikato delivered on all its contracts. All this combined, Sport Waikato has achieved a surplus of $451,353 for the year.

The full year accounts for the 2019 financial year show a variation of $360,000 when comparing the budgeted surplus of $155,000 and actual achieved. While this could be viewed as an overachievement, much of this excess surplus has been carried forward to the 2020 year as it was tagged to activity that we were unable to execute in the 2019 year - none of which impacted our ability to deliver our core KPIs. The main contributors to the excess surplus were:

  • This is Me® – our women and girls initiative has achieved great things since its launch and is now one of the benchmarks we use in terms of leading and enabling local communities to help themselves. Funded by Sport New Zealand, we were left in a holding pattern for most of the second half of the financial year while Sport New Zealand evaluated a national approach to driving women and girls’ participation in active recreation. Prudently, we held off on both the recruitment of roles tagged to This is Me® as well as marketing activity also budgeted to support it until we had a clear view of Sport New Zealand’s focus and priority areas in this space. We now have that clarity and so the funds allocated to This is Me® have been carried forward to the 2020 year along with new funds obtained from Sport New Zealand which gives us plenty of resource to play with for the targeted women and girls demographic.

  • Other recruitment – over and above the planned roles for This is Me® there were other roles, mainly replacing existing positions, where we experienced delays in the recruitment process. This is largely reflective of what has been a sometimes-tight labour market. While most of these roles were eventually recruited for, the delayed expensing of salaries also contributed to the excess surplus result.

Evidence Gathering (Insights)

We are fully aware in 2020 and beyond that Sport Waikato needs to demonstrate the impact we can have with the resources provided. Just as importantly, we need to be able to articulate how the impact has improved the play, active recreation and sport system in the Waikato region. 

Over the last three years, the appetite for evidence-based resources and information (including monitoring and evaluation) in the sport, recreation and health sectors has exceeded our expectations. Evidence based plans and partnered approaches to optimising and using data are continuing to increase as we leverage the partnered strategy – Moving Waikato 2025. The ability to measure and tell the story of impact is becoming increasingly important. Requests for assistance and leadership from RSOs and local authorities continue to increase with Sport Waikato positioned as subject matter experts.


Sport Waikato has been very fortunate over our 33-year evolution to have outstanding support, whether it is via contract for service, philanthropic donations, grants, corporate sponsorship or just as important, in-kind support. The Sport Waikato Board and staff thank each one of you for your belief in us and the many benefits the three-pronged offer we are driving in this mighty region called the Waikato. That is, play via movement, the desire to actively go and recreate up the famous Hakarimata steps or to play social or competitive organised sport. The more we get involved, the better our people will be physically, socially and mentally.

Fellow partners and volunteers in the Waikato

To our Regional Sports Organisations, the clubs and most importantly the region’s volunteers, congratulations again on another significant year of making sport, active recreation and play happen. Simply put, without you, your and our core business wouldn’t exist. The Sport Waikato team acknowledges your excellent contributions and values the complementary partnership. 

Kaumatua | Board | Staff

We acknowledge our Kaumatua Pokaia Nepia - your wisdom and advice to ensure we are appropriate, we are culturally aware but more importantly we culturally learn and grow as organisation because it is the right thing to do.

We also acknowledge the contribution, guidance and stewardship of a very busy group of individuals and vital cog in the Sport Waikato wheel, and that is the Sport Waikato Board of Trustees whose voluntary contribution and passion to our ‘why’ is never taken for granted.

And finally, to the Sport Waikato staff. In the words of Te Puea Herangi, you have again all just got on and done the mahi. We thank you all for your passion, commitment and contribution throughout 2019. We acknowledge those new staff to Sport Waikato over the last 12 months and we equally acknowledge and thank those who have moved on. Thank you for your part in a legacy that was created by those three gentleman mentioned in the beginning of this report back in 1986.

Final word

In September of 2019, Sport New Zealand’s CEO Peter Miskimmin, along with the leaders of our national sports organisation of cricket, hockey, rugby, netball and football announced a collaborative initiative based on the philosophy that in sport, and particularly youth sport – Balance is Better. The philosophy is linked to three key and growing issues in New Zealand sport:

  1. Childhood success is not a reliable predictor of future success

  2. Identifying athletes early and specialising early is taking its toll on young people

  3. A focus on winning rather development is a problem

This Balance is Better philosophy is a framework for our sport system that will put the needs of the Waikato participant first to ensure that participation and development opportunities exist to support our young people to develop a life-long love of play, active recreation and sport.

Sport Waikato is excited to activate Balance is Better in the Waikato region by working with key influencers in the delivery of youth sport as we gear up for the next decade in this 21st century and commit ourselves and our focus to our vision of getting every Waikato person out there and active.
Ngaa mihi nui | Thank you for your support
Mark McCabe                                                                           Matthew Cooper
Sport Waikato Chairman                                                    Sport Waikato Chief Executive