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New Zealand budget includes $265 million for sport and recreation

New Zealand budget includes $265 million for sport and recreation
May 17, 2020

New Zealand Minister for Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson has today announced a $264.6 million investment over four years into the sport and recreation sector as part to help it mitigate some of the worst financial effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Part of New Zealand's 2020 budget, although not announced in Thursday's main budget statement, the package recognises the important role play, active recreation and sport has in contributing to the nation’s economy and its mental and physical wellbeing.

Minister Robertson, who is also New Zealand's Finance Minister, said funding and revenue had dried up for nearly all sports organisations and that they were under "immense strain", advising "we are providing the support needed to sports at all levels to remain viable, get stronger and adapt.

"We have also seen many of our professional sports and athletes struggle as competitions have been cancelled or suspended. Budget 2020 will provide some assistance, so they can keep competing.

"This has never really happened to sport in New Zealand before. The level of impact on funding is deep and therefore we need to respond in a way that we haven't before"

The funding includes $83 million to be made immediately available for "short-term support" while a further $104 million will be available in the medium term to help the sector rebuild.

The remaining $78 million would be for the development of new programmes that help communities get back into activity and recreation.

With the New Zealand Government having enable the latest easing of Coronavirus restrictions last Thursday, professional sport is set to resume, although fans will not be able to attend matches.

However, community and club sports competitions are still on hold, with organisations told by government agency Sports NZ to enter a "get ready" phase to prepare for a return.

Minister Robertson said he wants grassroots organisations to receive support alongside professional and elite organisations, stating "we've focused on grassroots already, Sports New Zealand had reprioritised $25 million of funding already specifically for grassroots clubs.

"Some of the immediate funding will be available for professional sports, but it is for sports at all levels.

"From my perspective, professional sport only operates because we have strong community sport".

He went on to advise “Sport New Zealand and High Performance Sport New Zealand will work closely with national sport and recreation organisations, as well as the professional teams and clubs to ensure the new funding is allocated fairly and appropriately across the system.

“Across all these areas we will be providing funding to support women’s sport and groups who are currently underrepresented in sport like people with disabilities, Maori and those from low socioeconomic groups."

He also explained that the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs was working on policy that would help sports organisations recover from the loss of gambling revenue.

Advising that the agency will work through how and where funding is targeted by collaborating with current partners and wider stakeholders in the sector, Sport NZ Chief Executive, Peter Miskimmin noted "to make the most of this opportunity we need many minds and many voices. This dialogue will commence tomorrow with Sport NZ’s current partners and will continue in the coming days and weeks with broader stakeholders."

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