GREATER RECOGNITION OF THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL VALUE OF RECREATION
Recreation is part of what it is to be a New Zealander. Most Kiwi kids are introduced to the outdoors through recreation with family and friends, many of us are members of clubs and groups that enjoy recreation for fun, health and social reasons, and the names of outdoor pioneers like Sir Edmund Hillary are wired into our national psyche.
For individuals, recreation contributes to physical and mental wellbeing and provides an opportunity to meet new people. For communities, it can foster a sense of togetherness and help people integrate. Investment in recreation also generates tourism opportunities and makes a community more desirable for professionals and young families.
Greater understanding of these benefits and their downstream impacts, along with awareness of how legislative reform can influence recreation delivery, are key to ensuring New Zealand’s recreation industry remains among the world’s best.
GROW LOCAL AND CENTRAL GOVERNMENT INVESTMENT IN RECREATION
Recreation makes a considerable contribution to a locality’s physical and social infrastructure. Recognising recreation as a core service is imperative if the industry’s workforce and our country’s recreation programmes, services and infrastructure are to receive the financial and policy support needed to deliver for their communities.
Too often central and local government planners are short-sighted when it comes to recognising the long term benefits recreation provides. Rather than considering recreation as a ‘nice to have’, local and central government should consider it as an investment in healthy people, connected communities and a strong economy – all of which are important to New Zealanders, and all of which can be achieved cost effectively through recreation investment.
MORE DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR RECREATION WORKERS TO SUPPORT A SUSTAINABLE INDUSTRY THAT MEETS THE NEEDS AND EXPECTATIONS OF PARTICIPANTS
There’s a well-known Māori proverb that states, He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata! (What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people). This rings particularly true for recreation.
Yet many of those within the industry are overworked and under resourced, and the industry is heavily reliant on volunteers putting in long hours, often with little recognition. As the age, expectations and socio-economic and cultural makeup of New Zealanders changes, recreation workers are having to work harder than ever to understand and engage them.
Greater appreciation of paid and unpaid recreation workers, both in terms of the recognition they receive and the rewards, remuneration and development opportunities they are offered, is vital to ensure a sustainable industry that can meet the rising expectations of participants and customers.