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Lack of diversity in Kiwi Olympic team? NZOC respond

The New Zealand men's sevens team selected for the Rio Olympics. Photo / Getty
The New Zealand men's sevens team selected for the Rio Olympics. Photo / Getty

In response to Dylan Cleaver's column questioning the diversity of the New Zealand Olympic team, we invited relevant sporting figures to respond.

Kereyn Smith, secretary-general, New Zealand Olympic Committee
"We're focused on inclusion, we want everyone to be part of our success and aspirations. That's what we stand for.

"At London around 28 per cent [52 out of 184 athletes] identified as an ethnicity other than European. The majority were Maori, that's proportionately higher than the general population. We haven't done the Rio numbers yet, but we believe it could be a more diverse range of ethnicities.

"At a higher level our Olympians can show New Zealanders of all ethnicities a pathway to success. They can aspire to be like those people and do it themselves with the right support structure.

"On the question of New Zealanders of Asian origin, it's probably only a matter of time before they form a greater part of the team. New Zealand is evolving quickly from a bicultural to a multicultural nation and will continue to do so over the next 20 years.

"Earlier in the year we launched a campaign for diversity [#sportforeveryone] which is aiming long term. You can't announce something and expect to change the face of high performance sport overnight. The whole concept of inclusion is not only about ethnicity either; it's about gender, religion and sexual orientation. I'm not sure you can look at a team and make judgements on any of those things without delving deeper.

Alex Baumann, chief executive, High Performance Sport New Zealand
"Our high performance strategy has a particular purpose - to produce more winners on the world stage. That's because when Kiwis win, it unites us as a nation and inspires participation. So we invest in the teams and athletes that are best-placed to win at Olympic and Paralympic Games and other targeted world championships in sports such as rugby, netball, league and cricket.

"New Zealand has a rich history of high performance athletes whose success creates role models that unite and inspire the nation. These outstanding Kiwis come from a range of backgrounds and ethnicities. At High Performance Sport New Zealand we base our decisions on athletic ability and our investment decisions follow a model that includes past performance, future potential, quality of the programme or campaign, and the individual sporting context. This has proven a successful formula which has increased the number and spread of medals on an annual basis.

"Sport New Zealand's Community Sport Strategy also responds to New Zealand's increasing cultural diversity in several ways. It has an increased focus on sports of particular interest to the growing Pacific and Asian communities. It includes specific projects around low-participation communities which target Indian, Pacific, Asian and Maori communities."

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