A local sports club is pushing an initiative that aims to get people off electronic devices and onto the sports field.

Arataki Sports Club, a non-profit charity and community centre, has poured money into a specialised health and wellness coach to get families in the area to lead more active lifestyles.

Club president Charlie Russell said the aim of the initiative was to provide programmes for members of the community to get more active and engaged in healthy living.

"So many kids nowadays are stuck to devices and things like Fortnite, so we just want to get them off and active."


The club provides a number of sports and strength and fitness conditioning free of charge and has been described as an "open mechanism of support for the community".

It is also a good way to sweat off those extra Christmas and New Year kilos, he said.

Arataki Sports Club has been in existence for almost 50 years.

Initiatives such as this are crucial, given the Ministry of Health's most recent Regional Data found 34 per cent of children and 64 per cent of adults in the Bay of Plenty region are overweight or obese.

The same data also found a third of the Bay of Plenty population suffer from diagnosed asthma.

Neil de Wet, a medical officer at Toi Te Ora, said they had a strong focus on improving children's health and recommended device time was limited to less than two hours each day.

De Wet said Toi Te Ora suggested less than one hour screen time for children under 5 and zero for children under 2.

Limiting screen time works under Toi Te Ora's 5210 approach that encourages children and their families to make healthy choices every day like eating vegetables and fruit, limiting screen time, being active, and drinking water or milk instead of sugary drinks.


The club's new health and wellness coach Nic Haldezos said teaching the community about health and fitness could create "flow-on effects" that could make future generations lead healthier and more active lifestyles.

It was important to teach parents and families, as they could pass the healthy habits onto their young children and beyond, he said.

"You can change a whole community by starting with one."

Haldezos said health and fitness training really could "change lives".

Richard Beddie, the chief executive of ExerciseNZ, said New Zealanders needed to grasp a greater awareness of health.

ExerciseNZ's recent consumer report found awareness of health as the number one reason people exercise.

Beddie said although many people between the ages of 18 and 24 were relatively active, participation dropped significantly from 25 plus, falling to a minority after age 45.

Sport BOP had a range of similar initiatives in place to get communities active and healthy.

Sport BOP community manager Catherine McCulloch said they worked with communities to understand what their needs were as well as with the health sector.

"Through this, we have developed our recreation programme, Play in the Bay, which is about ensuring a variety of options are available for people to try out a new activity, as well as our Get Involved online sport and recreation activity directory."

Sport BOP also runs the Green Prescription and Active Families programmes that work with those who would benefit from a more active and healthier lifestyle.

The recent Value of Sport report published by Sport NZ in 2017 confirmed sport and active recreation created happier, healthier people and better-connected communities, McCulloch said.

Arataki Sports Club receives the majority of its funding through sponsorship from local businesses and organisations.