Sport hardship fund for tamariki, rangatahi to continue

A one-off $300 payment to cover expenses for tamariki or rangatahi wanting to play sport in the South Island is being extended. Photo / Tania Whyte / NZME File

A project aimed at removing financial barriers for young Māori to access sporting opportunities in Te Waipounamu has been extended for another year.

Te Kīwai, which was launched during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021, has already helped hundreds of children and teenagers between the ages of five and 18 who were struggling to participate in sports due to financial hardship.

The programme provides a one-off $300 payment to cover expenses such as club subscriptions, uniforms, equipment, and transportation.

The success of the initiative has led to Sport New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa and the Whānau Commissioning Agency for the South Island, Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, agreeing to continue the grassroots Te Kīwai fund for another year.

According to Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu pouārahi Ivy Harper, the extension of the programme will make a significant difference to hundreds of whānau.

"The need has not changed and when budgets are tight, food comes before children's activities, so we are really pleased that this partnership has been able to continue.

"Enabling tamariki and rangatahi to be able to take part not just in sports, but in whatever recreational or cultural pursuit works for them, is not just about now, or the next season or the next tournament, but it extends to encouraging healthy habits for life and so it is important that tamariki and rangatahi are not locked out of physical activity simply because of financial barriers."

Sport NZ acting group manager - Kāhui Rautaki Māori Tanya Wilson praised the initiative, saying it was an opportunity for the organizations to continue to work together to support youth.

She also emphasized the importance of including Māori cultural activities in the programme like taonga tākaro and kapa haka.

"These activities encourage tamariki and rangatahi to stay active, while also expressing their culture and heritage and contributing to taha tinana and taha wairua.

The extension of Te Kīwai is a promising sign for Māori youth who want to participate in sports but face financial challenges. It demonstrates the commitment of Sport New Zealand and Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu to remove such barriers and provide equal opportunities for all young people in the South Island.

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