New Zealand will be chasing the biggest medal haul in its history at the 2020 Olympics.

Sport New Zealand has set an objective of 16 or more medals for the Games in Tokyo, which represents the biggest ever target set for the athletes in black and white.

In Sport NZ's briefing papers for the new Minister of Sport, which were released on Thursday, the ambitious target for the 2020 Games were confirmed.

"Our medal targets for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are 16+ Olympic (with a focus on gold medals) and 10-14 Paralympic gold medals," said the release.

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This target is based on the record breaking performance in Rio — where New Zealand gained 18 medals — and also the ever increasing investment in the sector, with High Performance Sport New Zealand set to plough $250 million into high performance sport during the current Olympic cycle.

However, in the same briefing Sport NZ warn that it will be a challenge to continue the recent cycle of success, which has seen incremental improvements at every Games since Athens in 2004,

"Our current level of international sporting success could be hard to sustain into the future," said the report, "As other larger countries continue to increase their investment into high performance sports significantly."

New Zealand achieved its best performance at an Olympics Games in 2016 with 18 medals, a 38% increase on London 2012 and four above the medal target of 14.

New Zealand Olympic gold medallists Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. Photo / Brett Phibbs
New Zealand Olympic gold medallists Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Medals were achieved across nine sports, more than any previous games and a 50% increase on London, while four sports managed to win more than one medal in Brazil.

There were also other positive signs for the future.

60 per cent of Kiwi medallists were first time Olympians, and 51 per cent of New Zealanders who made the podium were under 27 years old.

In addition to 18 podium performances in Rio, New Zealand athletes also secured nine fourth place finishes, 40 top eight and 71 top 16 performances.

Overall this country finished fourth on the per capita medal table of 207 nations.