List of access keys Home Page Site map Search Contact us Back to top
Active Logo Print Version SPARC - Active NZ
Quick search

SPARC Facts 1997-2001

Part 4: Key Trends

The following section highlights some of the key overall trends of New Zealanders’ participation in sports and active leisure since 1997 to 2001.

Young people

  • Indications are that activity levels for young people may be declining overall, with the change from 69% in 1997/98 to 66% in 2000/01.
  • There also has been an increase in the proportion of young people who are sedentary (those who have not undertaken any physical activity in the last two weeks) from 8% in 1997 to 13% in 2000/01.
  • There has been a decline in the proportion of Māori young people who are active, from 75% in 1997 to 66% in 2001.
  • There has been a decline in those aged 13-15 years who are active, from 74% in 1997 to 62% in 2001.
  • Although overall participation levels are still high, since 1997/98 young people’s overall participation in sport and active leisure has fallen from 93% to 88% (2000/01). This is true for both boys and girls, and Māori and Pacific young people.
  • Participation in sports and active leisure both during school and before and after school has also fallen. Both boys and girls have shown a fall in their levels of participation in sports and active leisure during, before and after school, as did those aged 5-8 and 16-17 years14.
  • The participation rate among young people aged 13-15 years, and European and Māori young people, who participate in sports or active leisure before or after school, has fallen since 1997. In particular Pacific young people’s participation levels during school has dropped from 76% to 60%15.
  • Since 1997/98 there has been an overall drop in the level of interest among young people who want to take up a new sport or active leisure from 64% to 58%. These young people are more likely to be girls, aged 5-8 years, be Māori or European. Pacific young people, on the other hand, have shown an increase in their levels of interest in taking up a new sport or activity, from 56% in 1997/98 to 75% in 2000/01.


  • Adults were more active in 2000/01 (70%) than they were in 1997/98 (67%), resulting in around 150,000 more adults being active.
  • Fewer adults aged 65 years or over wanted to be more active in 2000/01 when compared to 1997/98 (29% and 35% respectively). This is also true for European adults (55% and 58% respectively). On the other hand, adults from other ethnic groups in 2000/01 wanted to be more active than they did in 1997/98 (68% to 58%).
  • Even though overall levels of participation remain high for young adults (those aged 18-24 years), their level of participation in sports has fallen from 97% in 1997/98 to 94% in 2000/01.
  • The levels of club membership and participation in a sport or active leisure organised competition for young adults (18-24 years of age) fell between 1997/98 and 2000/01 from 53% to 42% and 45% to 32% respectively.
  • The number of 18-24 year olds who received coaching fell from 43% to 37% over this period. However, young adults are still more likely to be a member of a club to participate in a sport or physical activity, play in an organised competition and have received some coaching or instruction than adults aged 25 years or over.
  • Young adults were less likely to be involved as a coach, referee, administrator or parent helper in 2000/01 than they were in 1997/98 (23% and 31%) whereas adults aged 50-64 years are more likely to be involved (24% and 19%).

14 Participation levels during school hours for 16-17-year-olds significantly fell from 1999 to 2001 from 55% to 40%.

15 It should be noted that the data on school participation is of a general nature and needs further analysis. There is data on what type of sports and activities young people were doing during school time and before and after school but it is not possible to draw clear conclusions about whether there have been declines in participation in physical education programmes, sport programmes or fitness programmes.