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New Zealand’s major parties quizzed on exercise and fitness

New Zealand’s major parties quizzed on exercise and fitness
September 19, 2017

In the run up to Saturday’s national election, the Exercise Association of New Zealand (ExerciseNZ) has asked the major political parties for their stance on health-related fitness in order to inform electors and industry stakeholders about exercise.

ExerciseNZ Chief Executive Richard Beddie says the two parties - National and Labour - have offered interesting and often conflicting answers.

ExerciseNZ asked Labour what their policy was on supporting the physical activity targets in the Ministry of Health’s healthy ageing strategy, their reply was that they “will undertake a national roll out of Waikato’s Project Energize, a successful nutritional and exercise programme”.

National said resilient people were more likely to age well and avoid cognitive decline or loss of function until very late in life. Resilient people can overcome stressful obstacles and recover from events that might tip a less resilient person into a state of poor health.

Senior Government Whip Jami-Lee Ross stated “we want our older people to be respected and to maintain the best possible quality of life, for as long as possible and a part of that is the ability to remain active.”

A summary of the two parties’ answers:

Question: What is your party’s policy on the importance of physical education and health literacy in our schools?

National - In 2015 the Government launched the 22-point Childhood Obesity Plan, making New Zealand one of few countries to have a comprehensive plan and a health target. To help monitor progress of the Plan, we released a set of 15 indicators which will be reported on annually.

The Raising Healthy Kids target was introduced in 2016 and aims to ensure that through the B4 School Check, kids and their families are put in touch with primary healthcare professionals who can check for any clinical risk associated with obesity, encourage families to take action, and monitor growth.

Labour – believes believe strongly in the importance of physical education and health literacy in our schools. Labour will continue to invest in community sport and recreation to encourage widespread participation and to help our local clubs thrive.

The party said it will set up an investigation into school sport participation, including the feasibility of reintroducing mid-week early finishing nationwide to facilitate mid-week sport.

Question: Given that most of exercise based providers are in the private sector (Exercise now has more than half a million regular users in New Zealand – making it the biggest participation sport in NZ), what is your party’s policies related to supporting exercise providers (private sector and non-profit)?

Labour - supports the continued availability of many options from a variety of providers for New Zealanders to engage in exercise. Grassroots sport in New Zealand would not be possible without the dedication of sports volunteers and Regional Sports Trusts. We need to ensure that volunteering in sport is an attractive and worthwhile proposition and that regional sports trusts can maintain relationships with local and national sports organisations, local councils, schools, clubs, health agencies and local businesses.

National - The current government invests $62 million annually in High Performance Sport NZ to provide a one stop shop for high performance athletes’ needs. Sport is a key part of the party’s national identity and success at the top level helps to inspire Kiwis to participate in sport which leads to a more active, healthier population and ultimately better social outcomes.

Question: There is now a wealth of campaigns that share information on what people should do with exercise and diet, but little to support changing behavior, such as stopping smoking. Does your party support any initiatives that involve helping Kiwis to get more active?

National - The Government has an action plan that aims to get young people active and staying active. The Childhood Obesity Plan is being supported by Sport NZ’s launch of the Young People Plan 2015-20. This plan has been developed as part of Sport NZ’s Community Sport Strategy. The Plan is about taking a fresh look at what we provide for young people to ensure they participate and develop a lifelong love of sport.

Labour - Labour believes that underfunding in health has undermined programmes such as Green Prescriptions as district health boards are unable to invest and expand services in programmes that encourage exercise and nutrition. Labour is going to increase investment in health by an additional $8 billion over four years.

Question: What makes your party different when it comes to supporting exercise in New Zealand?

Labour - Sport and recreation is an ingrained part of the Kiwi psyche. At the grassroots level, participation in sport and recreation helps create community cohesion and social integration. At the top level of sport, New Zealanders achieving on the world sporting stage lifts our national pride.

National - Obesity is a serious issue threatening the health of New Zealanders. National recognises there is no single solution that will fix obesity. That’s why we have developed a range of interventions across Government, the private sector, communities, schools and families.

Question: Finally, what makes your party different when it comes to supporting exercise in New Zealand?

National - Obesity is a serious issue threatening the health of New Zealanders. National recognises there is no single solution that will fix obesity. That’s why we have developed a range of interventions across Government, the private sector, communities, schools and families. We know it’s important to encourage people to be active so we’re expanding initiatives such as Kiwi Sport, Play.sport and sport programmes in schools.

Labour - Sport and recreation is an ingrained part of the Kiwi psyche. At the grassroots level, participation in sport and recreation helps create community cohesion and social integration. At the top level of sport, New Zealanders achieving on the world sporting stage lifts our national pride. Labour is committed to ensuring all New Zealanders, including those with disabilities and ethnic backgrounds, have opportunities to participate and excel in their chosen sport and recreation activities. 

Image: Richard Beddie.

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However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

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