Kia Kaha, Kia Ora | Be Active, Be Well



Play is vitally important for New Zealand's children and young people; however more and more is it being taken for granted that play will always be a part of New Zealand childhoods.

Levels of play are in decline due to shifting cultural values, increasingly sedentary behaviours, lack of parent knowledge, and denser urbanisation resulting in fears about children’s safety.  

Through play we determined where in the world we were, and who and what else we shared it with – it was where we practised our future life. With this came an understanding of the value of the relationship we have with our physical environment, and this has directly and indirectly shaped the physical literacy of our children to be active for life. We were socially connected at a young age, playing across whole neighbourhoods. Limited adult involvement meant we learned to make our own decisions, including measuring risk – we learned through trial and error.

Play allows children to experience fun, joy and laughter in a way that is important to them. It’s also where they develop and practice life skills. 

The positive benefits of play include: 

  • Being physically active in a fun way that develops fundamental movement skills 
  • Encouraging self-directed creativity and innovation 
  • Improving social and emotional connection 
  • Improving a young person’s understanding of their relationship with the physical environment 
  • Improving resilience, independence and leadership by determining their own outcomes 
  • Aiding better decision-making based around elements of challenge and risk. 

What will play be like in New Zealand in 2032?

Will it still be valued? What do we need to do to ensure future young New Zealanders have play experiences and opportunities that support their growth and development? At Sport Hawke's Bay, we are committed to promoting quality experiences so that New Zealanders value play now and into the future. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Case Studies 


Sport Hawke’s Bay and the Central Hawke’s Bay District Council have been working together to create healthier and stronger communities by creating safe and accessible residential play areas for kids to be active, to learn, and for neighbours to come together. Following a social media campaign to find local ‘street champions’, Sally from Francis Drake Street was found, and it was agreed this particular street would be ideal for the first PlaySteets Central Hawke’s Bay pilot.

Play Streets are short, resident-led road closures for neighbours to play safely and freely outside their own front door. The focus is on encouraging play and physical activity by temporarily opening the street for play and closing it to cars. They are small, local events on quiet, low risk streets and the process to close the street for this type of event should ideally be simpler than the process for closing a high-volume, high-risk street for a large-scale event.

In a team effort, Sally engaged with Sport Hawke’s Bay and Central Hawke’s Bay District Council to go through the revised street closure process, complete the application form and submit it to the traffic management team at Council for their approval and sign-off and on Sunday 23rd May, the street was turned into a safe area to play for 21 children and their whānau.


Grant Place Gets Out to Play

Local residents of a Napier community got in behind a new initiative that saw a local cul-de-sac closed and allowed for the neighbourhood to get out and play safely and freely outside their own front door. With thanks to support from Waka Kotahi and Napier City Council, this close knit community were able to deliver the first ever 'PlayStreets' in Hawke's Bay.


Check out the five phases of regional PLAY here

Play Aotearoa Website here 

For any questions regarding PLAY please contact:

Tina Haslett I Spaces and Places Lead: