The Covid-19 lockdown has had a huge impact on the NZ Warriors and stopped the club's $30 million in annual revenue in its tracks overnight, MPs have been told.

Warriors boss Cameron George has warned the club's recovery will take some time.

"We will survive, but it will be hard," he said.


Sports bosses, including the heads of the Warriors and Netball NZ, are briefing MPs on the Covid-19 lockdown's impact on sporting codes and events.

The groups are appearing before the Epidemic Response Committee to talk about how the coronavirus pandemic shut down sports.

The committee is chaired by Opposition leader Simon Bridges.

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George said the Warriors' development programmes had been massively impacted and could be withdrawn - meaning players could go to other clubs internationally.

The club was committed to fighting its way through though, he said.

The Warriors got the green light from the Australian government to fly across the Tasman in time for the start of the NRL season.

About 50 players and staff got a charter flight before going into quarantine in Tamworth, where they'll be based, and were given clearance by the federal and NSW governments to train while in quarantine.


Being able to get to Australia meant players had to make "huge sacrifices" in order to do that.

The Warriors are privately owned, which had its benefits, he said.

They turn over more than $30m per year, George said, from membership and sponsorship.

The club was also looking at what value could be had from sponsorship deals, he said.

"We are looking in the millions of dollars ... so that's a lot of money for our club to forgo," George said.

The club would rely on sponsors and growing their fanbase but George warned there would be fallout.


If the border restrictions were relaxed and did not require 14-day isolation periods, George would push for games to return to New Zealand.

He said he "loved" the idea of a transtasman bubble allowing travel between New Zealand and Australia without quarantine as it would have huge financial benefits, as long as it didn't risk the health and wellbeing of New Zealand communities.

The Warriors were in their "own little bubble", without any contact with the outside world at the moment. He believed they were in a much safer environment than the general public.

They were very comfortable for their club and players training in New South Wales before joining the NRL's return on May 28 with the measures in place, he said.

As a privately owned club, their main focus was to win the NRL but over the past few years it had introduced a women's team which was fully funded by the club.

But that was under threat now and needed funding from other sources, George said.


"It's so important for the fabric of New Zealand that females get the same opportunities as males."

The other investment hugely impacted by Covid-19 was their development programme, which nurtures young players, he said.

Lockdown's 'unprecedented impact' on netball

Earlier, Netball NZ boss Jenny Wyllie told MPs today about the "unprecedented impact" of Covid-19 for netball's 350,000 players nationwide.

Netball needs immediate support from the Government in order to survive - it can't afford to wait until the promised package in July, she said.

And when sport is rebuilt it needs to be in a way that addresses the "systemic inequities", Wyllie said.

There'd been underinvestment in women's sport for decades, totalling hundreds of millions, and this was a chance to address that, she said.


Netball depends on pokie-machine gaming funding - like other sports - and that pays about 80 per cent of salaries.

But rugby gets about $23m while netball gets about $7.5m despite similar participation rates, Wyllie said.

That revenue stream had also been declining over the past few years, and Wyllie wanted to diversify that funding source so sport wasn't so dependent on it.

Their other funding streams, like broadcasting and membership, have also been turned off.

The Government recently announced a $25m package for community sport but Wyllie said that wasn't scheduled to be paid until July and that would be too late.

Three month planning predicted a 47 per cent deficit of revenue, Wyllie said.


She wanted a cross-section working group to urgently look at an alternative funding solution, sport deemed safe at level 2, extension of wage subsidy for sports groups and the opening of the transtasman bubble.

And when sport gets rebuilt, it needs to be in a way to address inequities, she said.

Gyms and exercise clubs

Exercise Association of New Zealand chief executive Richard Beddie said the exercise industry felt forgotten about, despite having higher participation numbers than New Zealand's main sports combined.

About 15 per cent of gyms could close, even if they were to reopen in the next few weeks as they needed people to actually start using them.

Beddie said he felt gyms could be reopened more safely than bars and restaurants.

This was important for mental health and they were concerned about inactivity, he said.


"If we don't have physical activity, we'll have other issues … exercise is the magic pill."

Inactivity could end up really costing the health system, Beddie said.

The top two things Kiwis can do to improve their immunity was get a good night's sleep and exercise, he said.

The exercise industry was well aware of the risks and wanted to work with Government agencies to make sure Kiwis could go to gyms and meet with trainers in a safe way, he said.

But the Government was working slowly and was also giving people unclear information about what they could do at different alert levels.

"Personal trainers were particularly confused."


They've put together a framework so exercise businesses can manage risks and move up and down alert levels if needed.

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Families hadn't been able to put kaimoana on their tables for weeks as for various reasons many people couldn't fish from the land, said Bob Gutsell, the president of the NZ Sports Fishing Council.

All anglers fished first and foremost for food and ate everything they caught. Many people in small towns relied on fishing to eat and to drive their economy, Gutsell said.

"These people who relied on this for their budget … didn't have a voice.

"When you can't put food in the table that's the bit you've got to get sorted quickly."

While he acknowledged the effort to fight the virus, it didn't make "any sense" that people could stand in supermarket queues but couldn't go out and fish, he said.


As long as people stayed in their bubble, there wasn't a risk of people going out in boats as it could be done safely and without more risk than other activities.

They wrote to the Government and suggested fishers should stay within 5 nautical miles from the shore and go out with another boat - not in the same bubble - so they could work together, he said.

They'd been told fishing could resume under level 2 - if it was the same as before - so they'd be happy with that.

Fishing would get no funding from the relief package for sport, Beddie said.


Professional athletes understood the situation and there was a massive appreciation that everyone was doing to work through the pandemic, said NZ Athletes Federation chairman Rob Nichol.

But at the same time they were very concerned about the future of their sport and careers.


"It's a real maturing of a generation."

The mental reset for athletes had been tough if their competitions had been cancelled or postponed, like the Olympics, and the motivation to continue training was challenging, he said.

What they needed was certainty, Nichol said.

Athletes wanted their sports to survive and the commercial industry alongside it shouldn't be left aside as it was a business, Nichol said.

They had had no engagement with Government which had been a frustration and there needed to be a better understanding of what each level meant for sport.

They were optimistic professional sport could resume at alert level 2, but community sport would need weeks to get going again as it needed a lot of planning and preparation.


The sector was struggling with not knowing "what was around the corner", he said.

Like preparing for a match, getting out of the crisis would require planning and preparation to get going again, he said.

Like other submitters, Nichol brought up women's sports and said New Zealand had often led the way in boosting women's sports and so funding would be required to keep that going.

Steph Bond, executive manager of the federation, said there'd been a lot of concern around the world that women's leagues would be cut as they don't make that much money.

Most of their professional female athletes had another job and were now having to choose whether they stayed in their sport.

But there was an opportunity to have professional sportswomen be part of the solution to be role models.


Nichol said pre-covid felt there was a need for sport and the way it was delivered in New Zealand to be looked at to give communities power to do it themselves.

There was an opportunity for sport to come out of this more focused and more aligned, he said.

Funding and support would be welcomed, but Nichol said it needed to be targeted to ensure it went to the right areas.


About 50,000 Kiwis are active hunters and spend in excess about $350 million a year on their sport, said Don Hammond, chair of the NZ Game Animal Council.

It was also important to rural and regional sectors and the domestic tourism sector.

It was critical to allow "very, very high value hunters" from overseas to come to New Zealand as soon as it's safe to do so, Hammond said.


They spent a lot of money for very little impact and supported a lot of jobs, he said.

Meanwhile, a lot of people in New Zealand depend on hunting for food.

There was very little risk to increasing transmission of the virus as people hunt in small groups, he said.

And there was a lot of confusion around what was allowed as people often heard what they wanted so there needed to be clear guidelines issued quickly, Hammond said.

"A lot of people anticipate next weekend the hills will be loud with the sound of people hunting."

Conservation land, which is about a third of New Zealand, needed to be opened up for hunting, with permits, because it was the only opportunity a lot of people had, he said.
A lot of people assumed the risks of hunting were firearms, but the statistics showed the risks were actually driving to the land and slips.


Multi-night hunting trips were "hugely valuable", he said.

The environmental impact of no hunting was also growing with herds now increasing and it was important to keep them under control for the indigenous wildlife, Hammond said.

Also a significant amount of predators, like rats and stoats, were trapped by hunters.


Events in New Zealand, both big and small, have about a $1 billion return per year, said NZ Events Association general manager Segolene de Fontenay.

There hasn't been a true valuation of the sector available so they didn't know how many people were employed by the sector.

But the impact of the Covid-19 hit wasn't just economic, it had a social impact as well, de Fontenay said.


And realistically events would be one of the last sectors to get going again.

Events were important for New Zealand's economic recovery as they encouraged domestic tourism and for the social recovery to bring people back together after being isolated.

The cap of 100 people indoors and 500 people outdoors, as currently allowed under alert level 2, could be different. They'd had a "slow engagement" with the Government on the restrictions, de Fontenay said.

It was critical for the sector that the wage subsidy be extended and a clear understanding of when alert level 1 could happen and what it would look like, she said.

The association is working on a support package proposal and is currently consulting on it.