Tākaro - to play

Play is a universal human experience; each of us will have some fond memories of play from our childhood. Will this generation, and the next be able to look back with the same fondness? Across Aotearoa and internationally, the evidence shows that play experiences are becoming less common and accessible for many of our tamariki.

So if our kids aren’t out playing then what are they doing?  In a recent Otago University “Kids’Cam” study 11-12 year olds wore cameras to document their daily activities. They found that children spent more time at food retail outlets than at structured sport and in outdoor recreation locations combined. Add that to the health data on screen time, which shows 56% of children in Lower Hutt watch more than two hours of TV each day, and it becomes very obvious how our children spend their time.

As a society we’ve engineered physical activity out of our daily lives and something has to change. Our children need the time, space and permission to have quality play experiences. What can we do together to create the opportunity and support for this vital part of a child’s life?

Healthy Families Lower Hutt partnered with Hutt City Council and Sport NZ to take a community insight driven approach to understand the state of play in Lower Hutt neighbourhoods. We called this Play in the Hutt. What we learnt is now informing how we collectively think and act to make Lower Hutt a great place to play again.

Mayor of Lower Hutt Ray Wallace says “Hutt City Council’s vision is for Lower Hutt to be a great place to live, work and play. As a city we need to empower our communities to better understand the importance of play in creating a healthy and active society. It is clear the responsibility of reducing barriers to play is shared by local government and community. We need to work together to create and enable more quality play opportunities.”

Tākaro to play  is the document that outlines our approach, findings and the recommendations for our community leaders on how to enable more quality play experiences for tamariki and rangatahi in Lower Hutt. 

The recommendations highlight that there are many factors that can contribute to improving our state of play including:

  • play leadership from within local government and community

  • play spaces that increase awareness and social permission to play

  • increasing active transport opportunities so tamariki and rangatahi can “play on the way”

  • play zone signs that provide permission to use road spaces and cues for motor vehicles to    slow down

Play is deeply influenced by our culture and whānau experiences and expectations of play. There is a need to gain more insights in to the multi-cultural perspectives of play to better understand what the barriers and opportunities for play are, especially for our young Māori and Pasifika people. By better understanding play from diverse world views we can strengthen and enrich play experiences for all.

An exciting outcome of the Play in the Hutt initiative is that play is now being integrated into the new Hutt City Council wide Streets Alive framework. Streets Alive will support our council teams and leaders to ensure the wellbeing of our people is at the centre of our planning, decisions, designs and actions.

Imagine if our neighbourhood places and spaces supported our tamariki to get outside, be active and play.

To find out more visit healthyfamilieslowerhutt.org.nz/play/play-in-the-hutt/