Sport and active recreation across the Waikato region is set to receive a healthy financial investment as territorial authorities (TAs) confirmed their budgets for the next 10 years.
As part of their long-term planning process (2021-31), TAs have set aside $350m for investment into key community infrastructure projects across the sector.
But it’s not just about the numbers. Sport Waikato’s CEO, Matthew Cooper, is impressed with the “unique, sustainable and regional lens” TAs have made their budget decisions through.
“There’s been a real focus on future spaces and places, and with our guidance, they’ve considered not just the region’s changing demographics, but people’s ever-changing lifestyles,” he says.
Direction through regional strategies such as the Waikato Regional Active Spaces Plan (lead by Sport Waikato and developed with local authorities and other strategic partners) played a key role in these decisions.
The plan’s 2021 iteration provides a high-level strategic framework for play, active recreation, sport facilities, and spaces and places planning and optimisation across the region, while aligning with the focus of Moving Waikato - the region’s strategy for play, active recreation and sport. This is in response to changing participation trends and preferences that indicate the need to better understand and provide opportunities for play and active recreation in the Waikato region.
“Our Active Spaces Strategy gave TAs evidence-based information to help them tailor their investments to fit specific areas of need, in a sustainable way, by highlighting the priority focus areas at a regional and local level,” says Cooper.
“We’d like to congratulate all 10 TAs for their unique and future-focussed investment into sport and active recreation.”
According to Cooper, there’s been a real evolution in the way TAs think. He believes they now operate and make their decisions within the wider context which includes sport, active recreation and play.
“It’s no longer just about sports grounds and indoor stadiums. There’s much more focus on active recreation, including opportunities to play and connect with family and friends,” he says.
“There’s also been greater coordination and transparency between TAs than ever before. Our districts and regions have been well connected throughout this process which is reflected in the synergies in their investments.”
As well as this, Cooper believes TAs are now making decisions that will make a significant difference regionally, not just locally.
“This is the result of an excellent informed plan, guided by insight, evidence and a framework to progress in a methodical way, rather than an emotive, parochial way,” he says.
“The TA long-term planning cycle is a real catalyst for momentum that will benefit our communities’ future generations for years to come. And we’re excited about the future of sport and active recreation in the Waikato region[HM8] and the difference this evolution of thinking and tailored investments will make.”