Recreation Aotearoa 2020: Driving pacific participation in sport and recreation

Motivating Pacific people to be more active in the communities where they live, work and play is a top priority for Healthy Families South Auckland. 

Lead Systems Innovator, Fila Fuamatu, was a panel speaker at Recreation Aotearoa Conference 2020, a two-day online conference which explored the impact of Covid-19 on the recreation sector across Aotearoa. 

“My presentation reviewed Aktive Auckland’s strategic plan and regional sports trusts community programmes. Specifically, what is available for pacific communities to engage and participate in sport and recreation,” says Fila.

Harbour Sport on the Northshore offers four pacifc sports programmes that aim to see the community well supported through culturally specific opportunities to be physically active for life. 

In South Auckland where pacific populations are the highest, CLM Community sport (Counties Manukau Sport) do not offer any pacific programmes. 

Filas presentation was an opportunity to raise awareness of the gaps in sport and recreation for Pacific people.

“We want to see our Pacific communities participating in physical activity, so we need to provide opportunities that are a reflection of who they are in the areas where they are, like South Auckland”, says Fila. 

Re-connecting people with their culture is one-way Fila is aiming to drive change. As part of her work, she has helped to establish Move Auckland Pasifika (MAP) Collective, and led the activation of the Village Games movement during pacific language weeks.

“We know that if people can identify with a game that means something to them culturally that they are more likely to participate and then pass it on to the younger generation,” she says. 

“If you want pacific people to take ownership of their physical activity, recreation and play we need to be talking with them, not at them. So, we empower our community to show and describe to us why their traditional village games resonate strongly with them.” 

The conference also looked at the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns, examined research and insights and how those working in the sport sector responded to community needs. 

“When lockdown hit everything stopped, so initially we thought how our community champions in South Auckland will continue to support pacific people to move and be active, but what we actually found was that people exercised more during lockdown” 

“An opportunity was there for us to meet with pacific community activators and to engage with the recreation sector online. We could see that pacific people were being more active during lockdown, it was something they could do with the whole family and these insights were important to share with the recreation sector,” says Fila.

Fila is passionate about seeing an increase in pacific participation in sport and recreation and believes this needs to start at a policy level, but also explains that understanding the lived reality of inactive Pacific people is key to driving behaviour change. 

For more information about the Village Games movement, contact Fila Fuamatu at [email protected].