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NZRA concerned about lack of recreation investment

26 May 2016

NZRA concerned about government’s lack of recreation investment

The New Zealand Recreation Association expressed concern about today’s budget announcement, saying the decision to spend less on recreation opportunities in the great outdoors would impact negatively on individuals and communities around the country.

Late last year, NZRA identified increased central and local government investment as one of three priorities for the recreation industry. The other two key priorities are higher recognition of the economic and social value of recreation and better development opportunities for recreation workers.

“Today’s budget announcement is disappointing news for Kiwis,” said NZRA Chief Executive Andrew Leslie.

“The government should be spending more, not less on creating recreation opportunities in order to capitalise on the many social and economic benefits recreation provides.”

Today’s announcement included a $2 million cut to the Department of Conservation’s budget for management of recreation opportunities in the outdoors, such as tracks and huts. Sport New Zealand’s budget for high performance sport increased, but no additional funding was announced for critical community recreation programmes and initiatives that benefit everyday New Zealanders.

“At a time when our population is increasing and the costs of providing recreation opportunities are on the rise, the lack of any meaningful additional funding for community recreation and the decline in funding for tracks and huts is very disappointing,” Mr Leslie said.

However, it wasn’t all bad news, he said.

“We were pleased to see that $25 million has been allocated in the Tourism budget over the next four years to linking up New Zealand’s cycle trails.”

Mr Leslie said there were hundreds of organisations and tens of thousands of people working to improve recreation opportunities in New Zealand, and more needed to be done to support them.

“We have a growing, increasingly diverse population. Our lives have become busier, our cities more crowded. More than ever, we need to be identifying and developing opportunities for people’s changing recreation needs.

“Research shows that people who take part in recreation are happier and healthier. There is also clear evidence that a vibrant recreation industry is good for the economy, with clear benefits for areas such as health and tourism.

“A lack of government funding means fewer opportunities for community recreation and sport programmes, and less scope for maintenance and improvements to indoor and outdoor facilities and spaces.”

ENDS

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