Spotlight on Rangatahi

Spotlight on Rangatahi
01 Jun 2021
Spotlight on Rangatahi - Key Findings Inforgraphic
01 Jun 2021


This report focuses on the participation landscape for rangatahi between ages 12 and 17.



Online and postal self-completion using sequential mixed methods, we are targeting 20 000 adults and 5000 young people per annum.


The 2017 survey was conducted between 5 January 2017 and 4 January 2018. The 2018 survey was conducted between 5 January 2018 and 4 January 2019. The 2019 survey was conducted between 5 January 2019 and 4 January 2020.


Across the three years, responses have been received from n=74 160 adults aged 18-plus and n=16 398 young people aged between 5 and 17.


Results have been weighted to the total New Zealand Regional Sports Trust population using 2013 Census statistics.


Key Results

  1. Variation is evident by ethnicity. On average, Māori and Pacific rangatahi spend more time being active than the other ethnic groups (although they are just as likely to spend 7-plus hours being active as other ethnic groups). Māori also participate in more sports and activities, while the key statistics show Asian rangatahi have lower levels of participation.
  2. Rangatahi from high deprivation areas are less likely to spend 7-plus hours each week being active compared with all rangatahi. The reverse is the case for rangatahi from low deprivation areas.
  3. Rangatahi divide their time equally between organised5 and informal participation, while just one-third of time is spent in organised participation by tamariki.
  4. Participation by age varies between rangatahi. As rangatahi get older, fewer participate each week, fewer meet the physical activity guidelines, and the time spent and number of sports and activities they do declines steeply.
  5. Overall, ages 12 and 13 display higher participation, while ages 15, 16 and 17 are lower.
  6. Females spend less time being active than males, and between ages 16 and 17 are more likely to be inactive (do less than 30 minutes a week). In contrast, males are more likely to be active for 7-plus hours a week and to meet the physical activity guidelines.
  7. As rangatahi get older, the drop in organised participation is steeper than for informal participation. By age 17, just 1 in 2 rangatahi participate in an organised way, compared with 3 in 4 who participate informally. The decrease in time spent in organised participation is steep from age 15.
  8. The drop in being active in physical education (PE) is steepest from age 15; training with a coach or instructor also drops noticeably from this age. Participating through competitions and tournaments sees less of a decline between ages 15 and 17.
  9. At age 17, males are more likely to do PE and have higher levels of enjoyment of PE. Sport NZ’s Voice of Rangatahi research found females have lower levels of satisfaction with PE in secondary school years. Females are also less likely than males to feel school staff encourage them to be active or that they have a say when it comes to being active at school.
  10. No overall gender difference is evident in time spent in organised participation. Sport NZ’s Voice of Participant survey found that, between ages 13 and 18, 1 in 2 males and females join clubs to play in competitions.9 Club satisfaction varies by different sports and by gender.
  11. Females are more likely to train with a coach or instructor, especially at age 15. Although participating to learn or practise a new skill decreases as rangatahi get older, females are more likely to participate for this reason, especially at ages 14 and 15.
  12. Club and team membership in and outside of school, and participation through events, decrease as rangatahi get older.
  13. Nine in 10 rangatahi enjoy playing sport and, although enjoyment is lower at age 17, 8 in 10 continue to enjoy playing sport. Rangatahi are also less likely to agree they are good at sport as they get older, especially females.
  14. Wanting to represent a region or country and enjoying watching, listening to or reading about sport decreases as rangatahi get older, particularly for females.
  15. Males are more likely to participate informally and spend more time in informal participation, with the biggest gender gap occurring between ages 16 and 17.
  16. Workout with weights or cardio is the only activity to increase from age 14. Gym membership increases between ages 15 and 17, and, by 17, one in four has a gym membership. These patterns are consistent by gender.
  17. One in three rangatahi use technology while being active, this is higher at age 17. Females are more likely than males to use technology while being active.
  18. Half of rangatahi use active ways of getting to school, primarily walking and biking. Walking is lower at age 12 and then relatively consistent between ages 13 to 17, while biking to school is lower between ages 15 and 17.
  19. Males are more likely than females to use active ways to get to school and three times more likely to bike to school.
  20. Nine in ten rangatahi want to be active, this is consistent by age and gender.
  21. Three in four rangatahi want to increase their participation, this is consistent by age. Being too busy and too tired are the biggest barriers, regardless of appetite to be more active, especially for females.
  22. Confidence, competence, encouragement and having the opportunity to participate in activities of choice decrease as rangatahi get older, particularly for females. The biggest gender gap is on confidence and competence, especially at age 14.
  23. Sport NZ’s internal analysis of Active NZ data10 found adult females have a greater influence on the amount of time male rangatahi spend being active.
  24. Females who want to be more active are also more likely to struggle with motivation, have friends who are not active and a fear of failure as barriers to doing more.
  25. Participating for fun decreases as rangatahi get older. The opposite is true for participating for fitness and health. By age 17, these are equal motivators for participation.
  26. Participating to lose or maintain weight and to look good increases as rangatahi get older.
  27. Females are more likely to participate for fitness and health and to lose or maintain weight particularly from age 13. By age 17, this is the main motivator for one in five females. Males are more likely to participate to look good.
  28. Happiness levels are highest for rangatahi who spend 7-plus hours a week being active.
Page last modified: 30 Jan 2024