Active NZ: Changes in Participation - The New Zealand Participation Survey 2022

Active NZ Changes in Participation - The New Zeala…
31 Jul 2023


This report provides an update on the main participation indicators in play, active recreation, and sport in 2022 for New Zealanders aged 5-plus. It sets out how these indicators have changed over time, as well as how they vary over the lifespan of New Zealanders and by demographic groups.


The report mainly uses data collected through the Active NZ survey between 13 January 2022 and 4 January 2023 from 4,015 young people and 15,118 adults.

It also references data collected through the Active NZ survey between 5 January 2017 and 4 January 2022, to identify any changes in participation over time.

Changes in participation between 2021 and 2022 among young people and adults are highlighted, as are changes within demographic groups (including gender, age, ethnicity, deprivation, and disability).

Results have been drawn from two separate surveys and datasets: one for young people aged 5 to 17, and one for adults aged 18-plus. Commentary about differences between young people and adults is based on observations rather than statistical testing between the two datasets.

Within the two datasets, reported differences between the total result and subgroups are statistically significant at the 95 percent confidence level, unless noted. Significance testing means we can be highly confident that any differences reported are not random variations due to carrying out a survey among a sample of the population rather than a population census.

Key Results

The results show that COVID-19 continues to have an impact on participation. While in 2021 lockdowns negatively impacted people’s access to organised participation, 2022 was more affected by illness, meaning people were unable to be as active as before.

Participation for tamariki is most improved, with the proportion participating each week returning to pre-COVID-19 levels, and time spent in weekly participation stabilising at the [highest] level observed in 2021. The recovery is largely driven by the return to pre-COVID-19 levels of organised participation.

Weekly participation for rangatahi has not returned to pre-COVID levels, with poorer results on all the  key participation statistics in 2022 compared with 2021. We have seen a continuation of the ir weakening relationship since 2018 with sport and organised participation, for instance the continued downward trend in club membership. In 2022 older rangatahi expressed an increased preference to be active in flexible ways that meet their own schedule.

In 2022, preferring to do other things has increased as a barrier to being more active: many agree that electronic games are more exciting than real-life games.

While the proportion of adults participating each week is stable over time, the increases observed in 2021 in time spent in weekly participation, average number of sports and activities and proportion meeting the guidelines have not been sustained: all dropped below pre-COVID levels. Despite this lower level of activity, in 2022 appetite to increase participation is at its highest, as is the value placed on being active for physical and emotional wellbeing.

Page last modified: 18 Dec 2023