February 22, 2020

Increasing the state of play in New Zealand

Few things are associated with childhood more than playtime but across New Zealand, play is under threat. Lack of time, space, and a more risk-averse society are all contributing to a decrease in participation in this essential activity in early development. Healthy Families Waitākere Manager, Kerry Allan, explains.

“Play is our first language. When we speak about play, we are referring to unstructured play – play without rules, timeframes or scheduled training. Through play, children build physical capabilities – balance, fitness, and strength. When playing with others, children learn valuable negotiation skills, concepts of sharing and friendships, all which contributes to health and wellbeing for the next generation.”

Hosted by Healthy Families Waitākere, a network of organisations working in play are convening to explore opportunities for collaboration throughout the sector. Kerry continues.

“To effectively increase play across Aotearoa we need organisations and agencies to work together, to harness the power of collective impact. At the most recent workshop in February we were thrilled to host representatives from Sport NZ, NZ Transport Agency, Auckland Council, Christchurch City Council, Ministry of Health, the International Play Association and a number of Healthy Families NZ locations, all looking at ways in which we work towards collective impact for our communities.”

Healthy Families Waitākere invited traditional Māori games practitioner, Harko Brown, to share his insights on how the network could integrate indigenous play concepts into the built environment.

As the lead provider for Healthy Families Waitākere, Sport Waitākere secured a workshop session with Harko Brown. Auckland Regional Sports Trust representatives were invited, including the newly appointed Healthy Active Learning Advisors, providing a platform for the learnings to be implemented throughout Auckland schools. Healthy Active Learning Advisor, Sarah Oto, explains.

“Harko shared his expertise on how traditional Māori games can fit within school curriculum, providing a platform to engage tamariki and rangatahi in physical activity. Part of Healthy Active Learning’s design is to support schools and kura in understanding and recognising the value of play, sport and physical activity. The principles of tākaro is an exciting concept that fits with this and can be widely integrated in curriculum.

The connections to our physical, spiritual and emotional well-being through play is something we look forward to supporting in our schools and through the Healthy Active Learning initiative.”