2 May 2008
Submission to the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance
1. Thank you for the opportunity to provide a submission on Auckland Governance. Sport
and Recreation New Zealand’s submission is from the perspective of sport and
recreation, with a focus on collaboration between central government and local
SPARC and its interest in the Royal Commission
2. Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC) is the Crown entity charged under the
Sport and Recreation New Zealand Act 2002 with promoting, encouraging, and
supporting physical recreation and sport in New Zealand. SPARC is dedicated to getting
New Zealanders active, participating, and winning in sport and recreation. SPARC is
committed to fostering an environment where:
more New Zealanders are physically active in sport and recreation;
more New Zealanders are participating in supporting and delivering sport and
more New Zealanders win on the world stage.
3. Sport, recreation and physical activity contribute to all four local authority domains of
community wellbeing (economic, cultural, social and environmental):
Economic – sport and physical recreation activities and events support local
economies by attracting tourism, business investment, and residential growth. A
physically healthy population is more productive and places fewer demands on
Cultural – New Zealand’s sport and physical recreation heritage is a key feature of
our national identity and a cornerstone of our communities. Sport and recreation
activities are an essential part of our cultural life and contribute greatly to cultural
Social – sport and physical recreation activities contribute to the social wellbeing of
the community by providing greater opportunity for interaction between participants
and teaching skills such as teamwork and cooperation.
Environmental – The physical environment affects our health and well-being. Traffic
congestion, pollution, poor health, and lack of regular physical activity are all issues
that can be addressed environmentally through greater use of active transport
alternatives. An effective transport system must encourage efficient, clean, healthy
transport modes like walking and cycling.
4. SPARC supports local authorities to achieve community outcomes by providing
investment, advice, and services that contribute to SPARC’s mission of getting more
people, more active, more often. Its interest and involvement in the business of local
authorities ranges from shared objectives to the funding and collaborative
implementation of local programmes. As well as local authorities, SPARC also invests in
and delivers through a range of other partners such as national sporting organisations,
high performance sport academies, sports trusts, and regional consortia.
5. SPARC has a significant presence in the Auckland region and considers this review is an
important opportunity to encourage greater collaboration between central and local
government to achieve common goals.
SPARC’s Presence in the Auckland Region
6. SPARC makes a significant investment in sport and recreation within the Auckland
region through its key partners, which are:
the NZ Academy of Sport (North Island);
national sporting organisations;
Auckland’s eight local authorities; and
Auckland’s four Sports Trusts.
7. Through its strategic partnerships across the Auckland region and across organisations,
SPARC supports the development of sport and recreation facilities and infrastructure.
SPARC leads the Auckland Region Physical Activity and Sport Strategy (ARPASS),
which aims for greater participation in physical activity and excellence in sport in the
Auckland region. To achieve this, ARPASS targets improved coordination between
Auckland agencies operating in this sector. ARPASS is about developing a regional
view and regional co-operation to reduce fragmentation, duplication and inefficiencies.
ARPASS partners include: SPARC; eight local authorities (the regional council and
territorial authorities); four Regional Sports Trusts; and the Ministry of Health.
8. SPARC’s investment in ARPASS recognises the value of a consortium of agencies
collaborating on initiatives which are better achieved across the greater Auckland region
than can be achieved locally. Part of the challenge for ARPASS over the five-year
commitment of the partner organisations (2005-2010) is to uncover and to demonstrate
the specific functions which belong in this regional space. There is already evidence to
suggest that ARPASS has had some success.
New Zealand Academy of Sport
9. SPARC supports the development of high performance (elite) sporting achievements
within the Auckland region through investment in the New Zealand Academy of Sport
(North Island), which is based in Auckland. SPARC’s three-year contract with the
Academy helps to provide certainty of funding and enables forward planning.
National sporting organisations
10. Many National Sporting Organisations are based in Auckland. SPARC makes a
significant contribution to the continued operations of these organisations.
11. SPARC works at a local level through its partnerships with local authorities in the
Auckland region to achieve the shared objective of increased participation in sport and
recreation. Examples of joint activity include:
Active Communities (Active-Friendly Environments and Active-Friendly Workplaces):
funding and a planning platform for community initiatives to increase the “activity-
friendliness” of environments and workplaces. Activity-friendly environments make
physical activity - such as walking, cycling to work or school, or taking the stairs - the
easy choice. The Activity-Friendly Workplaces scheme has been established to
assist employers, human resource managers and anybody wanting to promote health
and fitness programmes in the work environment. Examples of Active Community
initiatives in the Auckland region, involving SPARC collaboration and funding,
o Waitakere City cycle and walkway extension plans; and
o cycle-friendly routes around the Auckland region.
Project-based investment to increase participation in sport and recreation, including:
o Push Play Neighbourhoods – Rodney District
o Active Friendly Environments Research – North Shore City
o Youth Destinations – North Shore City
o AK Active – Auckland City
o Auckland Sports Fields Demand Study – Auckland City
o CM Active – Manukau, Franklin and Papakura Districts
Regional sports trusts
12. At a community level, SPARC delivers activities through partnerships with the regional
sports trusts in the Auckland region. Examples of activities delivered include:
Strategic Planning: SPARC supports and invests in planning for physical activity at
the district level by way of liaison, advice and administration;
Events: supporting local sporting events that profile the region and support the
development of New Zealand athletes and sports;
CoachForce: which is designed to enable effective regional delivery of coach
development and education programmes;
Push Play: a social marketing campaign to increase participation in sport and
Active Schools: tools and training to enable teachers to provide physical activity
opportunities to primary school children; and
Green Prescriptions: tools to enable health agencies to make reasoned decisions
about investment in physical activity initiatives, with the aim of reducing the need and
demand for medical treatments at a local level.
13. In SPARC’s experience, delivery at a local and community level works well in the
Auckland region when SPARC is investing in, and is involved with, community-based
initiatives. In many other cases, however, SPARC is of the view that efficiencies and
better outcomes could be achieved through a more united governance structure in
Potential benefits for sport and recreation through unified governance
14. SPARC is of the view that there are many benefits to be gained in the Auckland region
from clarity about which areas of responsibility would most efficiently and effectively be
implemented and managed at a community and local level, and which would benefit from
a regional approach.
15. From the point of view of sport and recreation, some of the areas which might benefit
from a regional approach include:
planning for international, national and regional facilities, open space, and major
clarity over ownership and funding of regionally significant infrastructures;
consistent policies and rules;
research and information-gathering;
special projects; and
the development of a sustainable city ethos that supports active communities.
Planning for, investment in, and establishment of facilities, open space, and major
16. Successful planning for, investment in, and establishment of international, national and
regional sports facilities and large regional events is a fundamental challenge facing the
greater Auckland region.
17. ARPASS is currently managing the development of a plan to identify and prioritise major
regional and national sporting facilities required within the greater Auckland region over
the next 20 years. The development and implementation of this plan would be greatly
enhanced through unified governance at a regional level.
Ownership and funding of regionally significant infrastructures
18. Regionally and nationally-important facilities and events can currently stall on the myriad
of boundary issues between councils. A unified governance structure accountable for
the ownership and funding of those things which are critical to the region is essential in
SPARC’s view, if Auckland is to be a city able to compete on the world stage.
19. Regional sporting facilities which are accessible by a range of sporting organisations are
also more likely to achieve:
economies of scale; as well as
exchanges of information and ideas which can foster a focus on high performance.
Uniform policies and rules
20. Reducing the number of boundaries between councils would help reduce the complexity
of overlapping policies and rules which can make sporting activities and competitions
difficult to organise. Simplification and consistency of council policies and rules relating
to sport and recreation for example (such as field charges, cancellation policies, and
ground-keeping standards) would make the management of inter-club and regional
sporting activities and competitions more efficient.
Research and information-gathering
21. Regional ownership of research and analysis would result in economies of scale, while
enabling research projects to be undertaken across greater Auckland that might be
beyond the capacity and budget of individual local organisations on their own. Findings
from Auckland-wide surveys can build a reliable regional picture while also reveal and
highlight local differences.
22. From time to time there will be specific one-off issues where a regional approach is more
appropriate and cost effective.
Sustainable city ethos that supports active communities
23. A clear mandate for Auckland regional governance on issues which impact on the region
as a whole would be a positive move forward, in the view of SPARC. Participation in
sport and recreation together with the implementation of high performance sporting
opportunities are being suppressed in the Auckland region, through an inability for
decisions to be made in a coherent and timely way across the region.
24. Regional decision-making is likely to enhance Auckland’s support for active
communities, while enabling it to compete economically and internationally.
Importance of representation at local level
25. While regional decision-making in some areas is likely to benefit Auckland, in the view of
SPARC, there are also benefits for retaining decision-making at a community level in
areas which are working well. Local initiatives and partnerships, which are specific to
local communities, for example, would not benefit from management at a regional level.
26. In conclusion, SPARC is of the view that there is a range of sporting and recreation
activities which work well at a local level, and would benefit from remaining at that level.
There is also a range of issues which might benefit from a more unified approach at a
regional level. These particularly relate to planning and implementation of facilities and
events, ownership and funding, research and analysis, and the simplification and
consistency of policies and rules.
27. SPARC is also of the view that for Auckland to become a world-class city, and one which
supports active communities, a revised local government structure may be a necessity:
one in which decision-making is placed at the most appropriate level to achieve the best
(the most efficient and the most effective) outcomes.
28. SPARC officials would be happy to discuss this submission and the issues raised in it.
In the first instance, please contact Andrew Fieldsend, Principal Policy Advisor.