New Zealand rugby stars are backing a new campaign designed to encourage Kiwi kids back into old-fashioned outdoor play and traditional board games.

Former All Blacks legend Keven Mealamu has joined forces with three current All Black dads, Dane Coles, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi and Karl Tu'inukuafe to encourage Kiwi families to reconnect with each other.

Father-of-two Mealamu, who played 133 times for New Zealand, says children follow parents and caregivers' examples when it comes to their choice of pastime and more needs to be done to encourage kids to rediscover traditional forms of entertainment.

Auckland fitness centre owner Mealamu says having diversity in playtime is essential in the development of more well-rounded children.


"We have to role model the information that we're sharing with our kids," says the former test hooker.

"I know these days our phones are a part of our work, but we need to find that balance as well.

"For our family, we try to have dinner together - and obviously our kids have homework and assignments due - but it's a time when they can put the books, computers and phones down and catch up."

With a backdrop of toy manufacturers and retailers around the world closing due to a drop off in demand, All Blacks stars are saying it's time to return to play as they knew it or it will be lost to the next generation.

Research by Sanitarium Health Food Company* has shown that eight in 10 parents (81 per cent) feel their children's lives are too complicated.

Mealamu says the results are worrying and he's hoping to do his bit to change things in a new campaign for Weet-Bix, which includes a new collectors card game found in the product boxes.

The new game, Weet-Bix Stat Attack, features 33 current players, six All Black legends and one head coach. Each card includes All Blacks player statistics, with the game requiring players to take turns to call out a statistic they think will be a winner. The winner of the hand collects all of the cards.

The idea is to get Kiwi families to spend time together away from any distractions - something Mealamu is passionate about.


"There's something quite special about sitting around a table and playing a simple card game or board game together," he said.

Mealamu, who features on one of the six special Legends cards, says the messages behind the cards are also important.

"I like to be able to share with the kids how I got there, how tough it was and the importance of working hard - that everything isn't easy. I collected those cards myself growing up and they provided a huge amount of inspiration for me."

As a father of two boys, All Black front-rower Coles says he feels a responsibility to lead by example and tries to get his boys to be active.

"We really are living in a different world to the one we grew up in, so it's awesome to promote something that we did as kids," he said.

"I try and play little games with my kids, you know like hide-and-seek and stuff like that. I just try and get them outside as much as I can and show them how I grew up and put these little traditions in place. It takes me back to when I was a kid as well."