While government funding of sport is relatively even with respect to gender, the gap between genders in some codes is large. The long-term impact of low levels of funding has had some impact on one of New Zealand’s most successful sports teams, the Black Ferns (women’s rugby). Consecutive losses to England in 2011 were a first for this team, and limited funding from the New Zealand Rugby Union was identified as a contributing factor.
Television and corporate sponsorship
Much sports funding and prize money for sportspeople is supplemented by sponsorship and television deals. Limited television exposure reduces the chances of securing commercial sponsorship.
There are considerable differences in television coverage across the genders. In the 2000s the only women’s sport in New Zealand to regularly feature on television was netball, which had enjoyed considerable exposure since the development of the ANZ Trans-Tasman League.
Other women’s sport was under-exposed on television and in other media, limiting sponsorship opportunities. In New Zealand from the 1980s, men received around 80% of everyday sports coverage, and women 20%. Women receive more coverage during high-profile events like Olympic and Commonwealth games in which similar numbers of men and women compete.
A 2006 study of the media during Olympic and Commonwealth games found that during the 2004 Olympics cyclist Sarah Ulmer received 20% of all coverage and one-quarter of image coverage in the New Zealand media examined by the study. Ulmer won a gold medal and set a world record.
Some gender differences are also evident with respect to sports awards. Between 2000 and 2016 only 27% of finalists for the non-gender-specific, competitive Halberg Awards were women. However, 39% of winners of all non-gender-specific categories and eight out of 17 supreme award winners were women.