Ministry of Recreation and Sport
The third Labour government (1972–75) had a particularly active involvement in sport. The Recreation and Sport Act 1973 created both a Council for and a Ministry of Recreation and Sport. Joe Walding became New Zealand’s first minister of sport.
One of the council’s first activities was the Come Alive campaign of 1975, which urged Kiwis to forsake their couches and TVs, and head outdoors. There were some limited government grants, primarily to local authorities to encourage youth recreation.
The Hillary Commission, named after mountaineer Edmund Hillary, was created through the Recreation and Sport Act 1987 to develop and encourage sport and recreation for all New Zealanders.
That same year Lotto was established, and under a 1991 cabinet agreement the commission was allocated 20% of Lotto profits to distribute. By 1999/2000 the commission was receiving $30.9 million from Lotto, compared with a government grant of $3.4 million, most of which was for high-performance sport.
There had been a narrowing of focus, including a reduction of funding for non-sporting recreation, and from 1995 some funds were specifically allocated to elite sport. However, there was continued support for broad participation.
In 1999/2000 the Commission disbursed $10 million to ‘sport development’, $9 million to ‘active living’ and $3.4 million to ‘junior sport’ – a total of 62% of its funds. Only $10.9 million (30%) was for high-performance sport. These sums were dwarfed, however, by the $453 million spent by local authorities and regional councils on community sport and recreation facilities.
Regional sports trusts
Regional sports trusts were set up from the mid-1980s to promote healthy lifestyles and run programmes geared to community needs. They were funded by local community and business interests, along with grants from the Hillary Commission. In 2013 Sport Wellington, for example, had 29 employees ‘committed to everyone, everyday experiencing the force of sport and physical recreation’.1
The 2008 Push Play campaign used advertisements on television, radio and outdoor advertising panels, as well as in magazines and the press. The idea was to inspire people to ‘feel greatness’ when they finished a run, hit the perfect golf shot or scored a goal.
Sport and Recreation New Zealand
Following a review which emphasised the importance of sport for public health, the Hillary Commission was replaced by Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC) in 2003. SPARC allocated funding for both high-performance and grassroots sport. It picked up on and promoted the Push Play campaign initially developed by the Hillary Commission in 1999. This social marketing campaign encouraged people aged 25 to 50 to become more active and commit themselves to at least 30 minutes of activity daily. Women were a primary audience.
There was a big increase in government funding in the 2000s, largely targeted at high-performance sport. However lottery funds, which remained static, were still used primarily for community sport. By 2008/9 the total spending on sport was $95.4 million, and over half was from government. About 60% of the total went to public participation and sports clubs and about 40% to high performers.
Sport New Zealand
In 2011 the National government reshaped SPARC into a new organisation, Sport New Zealand, which formally came into existence in February 2012.
Although the motivation was to focus government support more strongly on high-performance sport, the new organisation continued to assist grassroots sport. However, the emphasis was less on physical activity itself and more on working through organised sporting institutions, such as national associations, the regional sports trusts, territorial authorities and sports organisations and clubs. It also gave extra support to seven sports: rugby union, netball, cricket, rugby league, hockey, football and gymsports. In 2012/13, $62.7 million (47%) of the organisation’s total budget of $133.4 million was spent on supporting and providing advice to community sport and sporting organisations.