Political Party Responses to Recreation Aotearoa Questions 2023

With the 2023 General Election looming, we decided it was time to put the hard questions on recreation to the main political parties vying for our votes.

Their responses to our questions are provided below. These have been provided verbatim to allow readers to draw their own conclusions.

Question One: Given the insights of the Sport New Zealand Active New Zealand Survey, does your party support the equitable allocation of Sport NZ funding that reflects New Zealanders participation in various forms of Play, Active Recreation and Sport?

Yes - The Green Party supports equitable access to recreational and sporting facilities and, ensuring, through public funding, that cost is not a barrier to participation. We know that not all communities, or groups within communities, have equal access to these opportunities. This issue exists at all levels, from inequitable support for men’s and women’s professional sports to inequitable facilities outside of main urban centres. We support the allocation of funding that addresses these inequities and allows all people in Aotearoa to enjoy the many and varied recreational opportunities in Aotearoa NZ.

National Party Logo
National will continue to support and fund Sport New Zealand. It is ultimately up to Sport NZ to allocate funding.

ACT has no position on what is equitable allocation of sports funding.

Yes. Labour supports encouraging Kiwis to get more involved in sport and active recreation. In Budget 2020 we introduced the healthy active learning programme.  

It gets regional sports trusts, regional education offices, and public health units to work together to support schools to implement healthy eating and drinking, and quality physical activity programmes. 

The initiative has more than doubled in size in just two years – expanding from 300 schools in 2020 to 800 in 2022.

Healthy Active Learning is our Wellbeing approach in action. The expansion demonstrates the positive impacts the initiative is having for schools and communities.

Question Two: New Zealand has a high fatal drowning rate compared to other Western nations such as Australia, Canada and the UK. In 2022, New Zealand experienced the highest annual drowning fatalities in the last decade, with a total of 94 deaths across the country. Does your party support an improved water skills education, as well as ring-fenced funding for schools to carry it out?

We fully support the provision of activities that promote safety and reduce risk, such as water skills and water safety lessons. We also support providing sufficient resource for schools to meet the sport and recreation needs of their communities, including by providing these water skills education programmes.
National Party Logo
National supports improving water skills education. We believe it is vital that in a country surrounded by water, that everyone can swim. National will be looking at ways to ensure 95% of Kiwi Kids are comfortable swimming 100m.

ACT’s education policy is to fund schools directly and equitably, enabling the Board and principal to make decisions for the good of their students. Whether a school wishes to fund water skills education is a matter for that school based on the needs of their students.

Yes, we support and encourage schools to give all students the opportunity to learn basic aquatic skills by the end of their primary education. Around 60% of schools have pools but, for schools without a pool they are able to use their operations grant funding to help take students to a nearby swimming pool. Decisions about how schools use their operations grant funding is ultimately a matter each individual school.

Question Three: In both the Recreation and Conservation sectors, it is widely agreed Conservation legislation, including the Reserves Act, the Conservation Act and the National Parks Act, needs to be reformed. There currently exists a Conservation Law Reform roadmap, which outlines a process by which this might be achieved. Does your party intend to continue conservation law reform in the next term of parliament?


The Green Party is committed to conservation law reform. Reform must embed a strong commitment to implementing Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and it must modernise the law to better protect indigenous plants, wildlife and their habitats, to prohibit new mines on public conservation land, and to improve decision making on applications for tourism and other commercial activities. The Green Party will prioritise reform of the Wildlife and Reserves Act; and of the Marine Reserves Act to provide a new Treaty-based framework for the establishment of marine protected areas. We will pick up the pace on the implementation of the Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy 2020 Te Mana o te Taiao. More funding for the Walking Access Commission would help improve access across private and pastoral lease land to public conservation land. We need more innovative solutions like the Backcountry Trust. Since 2014, it has made conservation dollars go further by maintaining and restoring more than 250 huts and 100 kms of tracks with the help of skilled volunteers. DoC should not be closing or “divesting” huts to concessionaires. National park management plans need to be finalised to better regulate aircraft access, so as to protect natural quiet and recreational amenity. The Greens pushed for – and achieved - recognition of public access to waterways and of recreational values in the new Natural and Built Environment Act.

National Party Logo

Yes, National will continue the conservation law reforms when in Government.

ACT is aware of the need for more up-to-date legislation to replace the fragmented and often out-of-date current legislative system. In particular, ACT intends to ensure the recreation sector, especially hunters, fishers and trampers, have a direct say in the conservation estate and especially National Parks.

Labour backs nature, and that is why we made the largest investment in nature, expanding our ability to protect our conservation land and native plants and wildlife, and maintain the huts and tracks that make our great outdoors accessible to all and a world-leading tourism experience.

Labour will continue conservation law reform, and the Government recently announced that over the next term the Wildlife Act 1957 will be repealed and replaced, which currently hinders our ability to protect and rejuvenate nature.

Part of this will involve looking for targeted amendments in other pieces of conservation law – for more information on what a re-elected Labour Government will do to protect our conservation land please see our 2023 Manifesto.

Question Four: Standards New Zealand is a business unit within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). There are several NZ Standards which currently preclude the full inclusion of people with disabilities in recreation activities. This includes the NZ Playground equipment and surfacing Standard, NZ Design for Access and Mobility – Buildings and Associated Facilities Standard and the NZ Swimming Pool Design Standard. Will you commit to these standards being revised and updated, in order to enhance the accessibility of recreation places and spaces for people with disabilities in New Zealand?


The Green Party will continue working to build an inclusive Aotearoa where everyone has what they need to participate fully in their community. We know that disabled people still face high levels of discrimination and insufficient access to services, including recreation activities. We are committed addressing such barriers to participation, including by revising accessibility standards. One of our priorities for next term is to co-design accessibility legislation with the disabled community, underpinned by enforceable accessibility standards and cultural requirements, to prevent and remove accessibility barriers.

National Party Logo

National believes in accessibility for people with disabilities where it is appropriate and would support hearing from those affected as to how they would like the standards to be changed.

ACT is committed to improved disability standards.

We are committed to building a more inclusive and accessible society to ensure disabled people have the full rights and opportunities of other New Zealanders.

The Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill creates an enabling framework focused on progressively identifying, preventing and removing accessibility barriers that disabled people, tāngata whaikaha Māori and others with accessibility needs face, and growing accessibility practices, so they have an equal opportunity to achieve their goals and aspirations.

However, we recognise that the Bill does not necessarily reflect what many disabled people asked for.

We are committed to working with the disabled community to strengthen the draft bill, to ensure it better follows a rights-based approach and has mechanisms to ensure public and private organisations fulfil their responsibilities under this legislation.

We will pass the strengthened Bill in our next term. For more on how Labour will continue work towards a more inclusive and accessible New Zealand, please see our 2023 Manifesto.

Question Five: Activity Safety Guidelines are for high-risk recreational activities including those covered by the Adventure Activities Regulations. They are voluntary guidelines that reflect what WorkSafe and industry have agreed is good practice for managing safety. After the tragic Whakaari White Island tragedy, WorkSafe committed to revising the existing suite of Activity Safety Guidelines. However, as of July 2023 this has not been done and many of the Guidelines are dated. Will your party ensure that guidance to the Adventure Activity sector is improved upon and kept up to date?


Yes - the Green Party will ensure that the current guidelines are given stronger regulatory backing so that commercial providers of recreational and sporting activities take more responsibility for risk management planning and for the safety of their operations and clients. We will ensure WorkSafe is better resourced for compliance monitoring and enforcement, so that the law is better implemented. If the decisions in the Whakaari White Island court cases indicate a need for legislative change the Green Party would seek to implement the changes required.

ACT has no position on the Activity Safety Guidelines being reviewed by WorkSafe.

Following reviews into the Whakaari White Island tragedy, we will improve safety standards for those seeking adventure activities, and will ensure New Zealand’s adventure tourism sector remains a popular drawcard for overseas visitors.

As a Government, we committed to strengthening safety regulations following the reviews into the Whakaari White Island tragedy, and the improved requirements will come into effect from April 2024.

The Whakaari White Island disaster made clear that further action was needed to ensure what happened to the victims, their families and the community that day does not happen again.

Adventure activity operators will be required by law to communicate serious risks to customers, meaning prospective participants can be fully informed of risks before buying a ticket, in the time before the activity begins and throughout the activity, including if the risks change.

Guidance will be available to support operators to implement the changes they need to make to comply with the new regulations.

Question Six: Schools with an Equity Index of 432 or higher can choose to receive a per student payment per year if they agree not to ask parents and caregivers for donations, except for overnight camps. This initiative is designed to alleviate pressure and expectations on households surrounding donation payments, as well as improve access to Education Outside of the Classroom (EOTC). However, it is widely observed that many students are still not afforded the opportunity to have an overnight school camping experience in the great outdoors or engage in aquatic education. Does your party intend to include more schools in the Donations Scheme and set funding at a level that will ensure all students have access to quality outdoor and aquatic education?


Children have a right to free, high-quality education, including opportunities to access outdoor and aquatic education. Unfortunately, successive governments have chosen to allow wealth to accumulate in the hands of a few, while public services, including education are starved of crucial resources. We are committed to investing in essential public services, such as education., With fairer tax rules so the wealthiest 1% contribute more, we can unlock the resources all of us need to thrive. We will ensure that schools are fully funded to a level which gives students the opportunity to participate in co-curricular learning experiences outside the classroom and local extracurricular activities, and that schools are funded sufficiently that they are not dependent on private donations

National Party Logo

National wants to see every child growing up in New Zealand has access to quality physical education. We will look into all available options to ensure this is possible.

ACT’s policy of direct funding of schools equitably per student will resolve that issue. It is ultimately a matter for the school board to make such decisions based on the needs of their students.

The donations scheme is part of the Labour Government’s wider plan to make education more affordable for students and families and is designed to alleviate pressure and expectations on households surrounding donations payments.

It is an annual opt-in process which means the schools that chose not to opt in may choose to do so in a subsequent year.

The Equity Index (EQI) provides an indicator of which schools face greater socio-economic barriers to student achievement. The Ministry of Education use the EQI to target funding to state and state-integrated schools, to help them overcome any barriers to students’ educational achievement due to socioeconomic circumstances.

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