Sport Hawke’s Bay has been a part of the sporting landscape in our region since 1989. Throughout the years, our role has changed dramatically and we are now seen as the independent voice of sport in the community. Our role will keep evolving in 2016 as we continue working alongside our current partners but also begin a new focus.

We will be working to get more people out and about more often, as we strive to improve the health and wellbeing of our region. This new focus will see an aggressive promotion of living a more active lifestyle.

There is a critical need to get more people more active more often. Hawke’s Bay has more people with poor health, fewer people physically active, more people living in the most deprived parts of the community, and more people dying younger than the rest of New Zealand.

A recent Active New Zealand survey found that nearly 66% of adults are interested in trying a new sport or activity. With our region offering not only a great climate to allow us to get active, but also some outstanding natural features and man-made facilities, we have a fantastic opportunity to promote ways of increasing physical activity.

We are committed to delivering this new and exciting project. The support we receive from partners will determine the scope and scale of the project. This collaborative initiative will see the Hawke’s Bay community not only have an increase in physical activity but also create good exercise habits.

Hawke’s Bay health statistics are still very poor compared to the rest of the country. The Ministry of Health recommended guidelines for physical activity are at least 30 minutes of exercise on five or more days each week. According to the latest data, 43% of the Hawke’s Bay population met these guidelines, a decline of nearly thirteen points since 2006. This figure is significantly lower than the NZ average of 53%, with both men (49%) and women (38%) in Hawke’s Bay lower than the NZ averages (NZ men 57%, NZ women 50%).

We intend to turn those figures around.

Many of us go on a fitness or health binge at some stage, but very few of us manage to keep it going for an extended period, so the aim is to provide encouragement to do some form of physical activity on an ongoing basis, so that exercise becomes a habit.

We are lucky with the spaces and places provided by councils here in Hawke’s Bay. There are numerous open areas to exercise, plenty of hills to climb and hundreds of kilometres of cycle trails to cruise along.

We will work with councils and other partners to match up people who are keen to be more active, with under-utilised natural and manmade facilities. The key to success will be getting community buy-in – if your friends, families or neighbours are exercising, then you are more likely to join them.

This new focus will not mean that we reduce the support that we currently provide to the sports’ sector. Sport New Zealand recently committed to supporting Sport Hawke’s Bay for another four years through core funding of $590,000 per year.

While this is a slight decrease on previous funding, due to the effects of a population-based funding model, it is great to have secured this ongoing support from the national body to continue our work with clubs, regional sporting organisations and schools.

We rely heavily on the support of funders and supporters such as Sport NZ, councils, ECCT, EIT, the DHB, Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated, sponsors and gaming trusts to help develop sport in the region and this support is much appreciated.

The sporting landscape in Hawke’s Bay is continuing to evolve also. Our sporting success as a region shows that many people are taking up these opportunities and excelling in their chosen field.

On a community level it is great to see events such as the Air New Zealand Marathon coming here in May. This will see thousands of runners traversing a beautiful route from Marine Parade through to Sileni Estate. We also look forward to the second edition of the ‘Super Sixes’ competition to be held at a number of sports grounds and parks in September. This competition for Year 6 students looks to build on a successful initial event held in 2015.

These are two great examples of events that have the potential both to boost activity levels across a range of ages while also bringing visitors into the region on a repeating basis. With initiatives such as these, as well as the ongoing success of many of the region’s teams and individual athletes, it certainly is an exciting time to be involved in sport in Hawke’s Bay.

But I want to come back and finish with our get active message. We all know we can do a little bit more. Personally, I am targeting the half marathon in May, which will be a good challenge for me. And that’s what Sport Hawke’s Bay wants to promote in 2016. We are committed to engaging with community groups to find out what we can do to encourage greater levels of activity … in every possible context.

As a few simple ideas, why not park further away and walk into the Napier CBD, explore the cycle ways in Hastings, walk up Te Mata Peak, walk along the new limestone tracks in Central Hawke’s Bay, or head to the newly renovated Wairoa Community Centre and have a swim in the pool.

The key thing is that it needs to be something that works for you. We can all play our part in starting off 2016 by being a little bit more active. Try it, you’ll enjoy it and feel better for it.

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