Over the last couple of weeks, I have written about how Sport Northland's vision for the region has recently been amended to now include 'play and active recreation', which we believe better described what we do as an organisation:

"All Northlanders leading better lives through involvement in play, active recreation and sport."

In this week's column, I will provide some detail on the second objective in our strategy, namely 'Systems'.

Targeted active recreation and sport systems are connected and capable of delivering and sustaining participation opportunities that matter to their participants


This objective is essentially about Sport Northland working with targeted communities (both geographical communities across the region and interest communities) in a community-led way and increasing their capability and connectedness.

Sport Northland believes that being community-led will lead to an environment where community members take responsibility for play, active recreation and sport by determining a future based on what the community actually wants.

Stakeholders (schools, clubs, council, sports providers etc) then arrive at a shared understanding of how to work collaboratively to provide that future for the community, and in doing so, concentrate resources and good practice on improving the quality of active recreation and sport delivery, and providing a variety of activity opportunities across that community.

Geographical communities being targeted by Sport Northland include:

* Far North: Kaitaia and Ahipara

* Mid North: Kaikohe and Kawakawa/Moerewa

* Kaipara: Dargaville and Paparoa/Maungaturoto

* Whangārei: Otangārei, Onerahi and Hikurangi


Targeted communities of interest include:

* Primary and Intermediate schools (primarily through our Energize initiative)

* Secondary schools

* Coaching

* Maori (primarily through our He Oranga Poutama initiative)

* Workplaces

* Regional sport

In order to arrive at which geographical communities to work in first, Sport Northland previously mapped out a number of communities throughout Northland which were high (comparatively) in the following:

* Deprivation levels

* Overall population (including projections)

* Maori (per cent of population, including projections)

* Young people (per cent of population, including projections)

This was determined by research that Sport NZ undertook, which suggested that there are larger decreases in sport and recreation participation of younger adults, Maori, Pacifika and lower income households.

Progress in this geographical community connection has been positive, with the emphasis on the following:

* Developing relationships and communicating the new approach

* Aligning Sport Northland work and resources already occurring in each community (Energise, workplaces, Green Prescription, secondary schools, He Oranga Poutama, events, facilities and coaching) with this new approach

* Gaining early feedback from the community as to what they would like to see delivered in terms of play, active recreation and sport in their community

* Ensuring early wins through alignment and support of existing community-led projects

In summary, our long-term 'systems' approach is about ensuring geographical communities, schools, population groups, interest groups and sporting coalitions are determining their own future direction to ensure there is increased and sustainable active recreation and sport participation occurring across these communities.