The Young People's Survey, released by Sport New Zealand (Sport NZ) today, reveals that Kiwi kids are sporty kids, with 9 out of 10 young people saying they like playing sport, and, on average, participate in three to five sport and recreation activities in any given week.
Peter Miskimmin, Chief Executive of Sport NZ, says the results are encouraging.
"It's difficult to make international comparisons but we believe that probably makes our young people amongst the most active in the western world. That's something to be proud of, and something we want to ensure continues."
The Young People's Survey is the most significant piece of research into young New Zealanders' participation in sport and recreation in more than 10 years. Over 17,000 students took part from primary, intermediate and secondary schools all over the country.
The survey found that while young people take part in a wide variety of activities, the well-established, team sports, such as rugby, netball and football, are still central to young people's sporting lives and are high up their "want to do" lists.
The same was true for recreation activities like running, biking and tramping. Swimming, athletics and gymnastics - activities that develop fundamental movement and basic sports skills - also feature highly in the top 10 activities.
"Sport has always been part of the social fabric of this country and so it's encouraging that our kids are still really into it, given all the other options they have these days."
Miskimmin says the London Olympics will have inspired the next generation of potential Kiwi champions, and part of the challenge for Sport NZ is ensuring there's a pathway to take those with the most talent to the top.
"People often ask me how a country the size of ours does so well on the world stage, and this sporty childhood is part of the answer. When you can channel the sort of raw talent we have into a world-class sport system, which connects from community level right through to high performance, you see the sort of results we've just had in London."
"The survey does raise some challenges for us to consider, including something we've known from earlier surveys, that activity drops off for teens and particularly for girls, and that some ethnic groups are participating more than others," Miskimmin says.
"It's also interesting to see the significant part that informal or playful activity has in the lives of our young people. That's something we need to keep in mind in our planning."
"These are just our initial, high level findings. We'll share what we've got with other interested parties and do some more detailed analysis of the rich information contained in the research. Then we'll take a sector-wide approach to giving young people every opportunity to participate in sport and recreation, to the very highest level if they want."
Full report and background
The full report (and summary extracts) can be found at www.sportnz.org.nz/yps
For further information or to request an interview contact: Laurie Edwards, 0274 470 255