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Local Boards and Sports Clubs taking collective action to help people live healthy active lives

Local Boards and Sports Clubs taking collective action to help people live healthy active lives

Healthy Families Waitakere have been influencing local boards in West Auckland to consider how they support improved access to water in public places for the West Auckland community.

As a result, Whau Local Board prioritised funding for the installation of six water fountains in six parks that currently do not have public access to water. To ensure this investment is effective, Healthy Families Waitakere worked alongside the Auckland Council Parks Department and the sports clubs situated on the parks to agree on the positioning of the fountain.

There are over 3350 members across the six clubs and many were consulted around the location of the fountains to be placed in areas of high foot traffic. Local residents were also asked to contribute to the designs of the fountains to showcase local art and maintain the appeal to community.

Tua Raroa, Chairperson at Western Magpies Softball Club says he is excited that a fountain will be installed to support the community using Brains Park to have access to drinking water.  With around 500 people using the fields, parks, playground and courts on any given competition day, this will support the clubs’ pro water position.

“This aligns with our focus on 'water as best choice’ when playing sport and as a result of the fountain, we believe we will see less fizz coming to the park and filling our bins”, he says.

Installing water fountains to create healthier and sustainable sporting environments is spreading into other communities. Waitemata Rugby Football Club in Henderson is also demonstrating ways to increase access to free drinking water by installing a water bottle filler on the exterior of their building and holding a competition across their junior teams to design messaging around being pro water, including a mural.

Healthy Families Waitakere Manager Kerry Allan says the water fountains will reinforce positive messaging about the importance being able to access water for our communities when they are being active.

“With only 45% of adults in the Waitemata region being a healthy weight, it has never been more important to make sports clubs part of the solution”, she says.


Where recreation meets conservation

Where recreation meets conservation

Healthy Families Waitakere are taking a position to support the recent Rāhui (customary ban) placed on the Waitakere Ranges by local iwi and are working with local leaders to create alternative opportunities to be physically active.

The proposed closure by Te Kawerau a Maki and Auckland Council will protect Auckland’s largest Kauri tree population and native bush by excluding the public who have been contributing to the spread of Kauri dieback disease.

The Waitākere Ranges is an area of national, regional and local significance. Over 1 million visitors annually walk, bike, run and take part in events in the Ranges. Healthy Families Waitakere are taking action to support those who would usually access the Ranges to keep active and identify alternative physical activity opportunities for the large number of visitors to West Auckland.   

Healthy Families Waitakere are bringing community leaders together to find ways to leverage existing community assets and infrastructure such as the 135 parks and reserves, 36 sports fields and the network of walkways and cycle ways.

The team will also work with regional and local partners to prioritise investment in urban tracks, walkways and coastal routes and raise public awareness about the alternative physical activity options.  

Auckland councillor Penny Hulse is keen to ensure Auckland Council fully support the work of Healthy Families Waitakere which will ensure ongoing use of the existing urban tracks and walkways.

Healthy Families Waitakere Manager Kerry Allan says being physically active has significant benefits to people’s health and wellbeing and connecting with our natural environment is important for our future generations.     

 “By working with local and regional partners, we can collectively ensure our community still participate in regular physical activities that they enjoy.”


Culture and physical activity come together to transform teaching practices in ECEs

Culture and physical activity come together to transform teaching practices in ECEs

Placing cultural values at the heart of the teaching methods in a Pacific ECE environment has inspired one ECE to deliver active play and movement in a unique way.  Healthy Families Waitakere having established and supported a network of Pacific ECE’s in West Auckland were able to secure the inclusion of FunSkills into a centre.

FunSkills is professional development for teachers around skills and movement, delivered by Sport Waitakere. As part of the programme delivery Healthy Families Waitakere, Sport Waitakere and Cook Islands Educators worked together to design an approach that involves play activities based on traditional practices from the Cook Islands.

Over 6 months, Nor West Cook Islands Early Childhood teachers developed their capability to teach active play and were supported to embed cultural approaches into movement and play.

This enabled children to be engaged in physical activity which celebrated their Cook Islands culture. Children used stilts made out of rope and coconut shells (tamaka kapu akari) and did an activity that resembles the grating of a coconut while other children and teachers sing a Pe’e kana’ akari’ chant.

By applying a cultural lens, teacher’s capability and understanding of movement and play was enhanced and Acting Supervisor Manava Paroti said their pedagogy of teaching and care had shifted.

“The teachers have deepened their learning and understanding of movement and we have changed the way we think about active play”, she says.

Their activities align with the Ministry of Health’s Sit Less, Move More, Sleep Well: Active Play Guidelines for Under Fives as they enable children to develop skills that will give them the confidence and competence to be physically active for life.

“Since the programme began, the children have got more confident with their balance outside and are also listening better”, says Manava.

With 94% of Pasifika children attending the 225 early childhood centres across West Auckland, Healthy Families Waitakere are engaging more centres to develop other Pasifika approaches to movement and play to nurture and develop children in Early Learning Environments.  

Getting outdoors and being active

Getting outdoors and being active

Our beautiful Waitakere Ranges might be off limits but there are still plenty of places to enjoy the outdoors in West Auckland. 

A rahui has been placed over the Waitakere Ranges by our local iwi, Te Kawerau a Maki. This cultural restriction urges people to stay away from the ranges to allow the forest to heal. Auckland Council supports the principles of the rahui and recommends alternative walking and tramping tracks. 

Auckland councillor Penny Hulse will be enjoying the outdoors and recommends Te Atatu Park, especially for dogs, and the coastal walk around the Peninsula. 

“Healthy Families Waitakere is doing great work to get West Auckland families to be more active and enjoy all what the west has to offer,” she says. 

Healthy Families Waitakere are urging West Aucklanders to explore our local community and the wonderful walkways and cycleways that we have at our doorstep. 

The Oratia Stream shared path is an award winning Twin Streams walk and features edible gardens where locals are encouraged to grow their own vegetables. The path can be accessed from Henderson town centre and leads into Paars Park where there are places to be active on basketball courts and playgrounds making it suitable for all ages and abilities. 

Another award winning Twin Streams walk is the The Opanuku Stream shared path walk featuring conservation initiatives and stretches from Great North Road through to Henderson Valley Road. For a longer walk, the Henderson Creek shared path also connects to this route. Maps for the shared paths can be accessed on the Auckland Transport and Project Twin Streams websites. 

For those who enjoy flat walks which are mobility scooter, wheelchair and pram friendly, the Avondale Whau River, Hobsonville Point Circuit and Te Atatu Peninsula walks provide boardwalks over the water and natural habitat with an abundance of wildlife. Maps can be found on the Walks in Auckland website.  

Image: Penny Hulse in Paars Park, where the Oratia Stream shared path ends

Te Atatu Roosters promote water as a first drink option for junior players

Te Atatu Roosters promote water as a first drink option for junior players

Sports clubs and codes across Waitakere are leading the charge in the movement to make water the drink of choice for their community.

Te Atatu Roosters Rugby League Club Chairman Brian O’Shea sits on the Healthy Families Waitakere Strategic Leadership Group and has a deep understanding of the needs of the league community. He saw the opportunity to be the first rugby league club to become a health promoting environment and promoting water as the best choice became part of it.

Brian signed the Healthy Families Waitakere water pledge agreeing to promote water as a first option for tamariki and to motivate others to do the same. The pledge reinforces the activities already happening at the club which sees more than 500 players and supporters coming through the doors.

He and his team at Te Atatu Roosters Rugby League Club changed the placement of water bottles to be more visible, and provided a water dispenser for children to help themselves. Since making these simple changes, they have seen an increase in sales and consumption of water.

The movement is greater than one code and is spreading into other communities. Waitemata Seagulls Rugby League Club in Ranui also changed the placement of water bottles to be more visible in their canteen, and reduced the price to $1.00. They too, have seen an increase in sales and consumption of water.

Suburbs Rugby Club in New Lynn installed a water cooler that was donated to the club situated it away from the bar giving children and players easy access to water at any time.

One of the key success factors for the water pledge is that the same kaupapa and messaging around water is flowing over into other settings and sectors, led not just by Healthy Families Waitakere but by our strategic leaders too.

Image: Chairman Brian O’Shea standing next to their fridge fill of water at Te Atatu Roosters Rugby League Club

Sport Waitakere promote water at physical activity events

Sport Waitakere promote water at physical activity events

Reshaping what is considered normal for children to drink when attending inter school sports events was a challenge that Sport Waitakere took on and through support from the Healthy Families Waitakere team have now influenced 20 events, across 12 schools with 6000 young people participating over the last year.

Throughout the year, the Sport Waitakere team have been promoting water to schools through posters, encouraging students to bring water bottles and providing water at every Sport Waitakere event. 15 of these 20 events have been “water only” and this has been very positively received by all schools involved.

At the South-West Winter Field Day event attracting over 700 students, water was promoted before and throughout the day. One of the venues hosting the netball competition had a canteen on site so in order to keep water messages consistent, Healthy Families Waitakere worked with canteen operator Fernz Catering to trial a water and sandwich deal on the day. Fernz Catering also moved their bottled water to be more visible to students and saw and increase in water sales throughout the day.
As the lead organisation for Healthy Families Waitakere, Sport Waitakere are using their reach into community to share messaging around water and encouraging others to join the water movement.

Sport Waitakere CEO and Chairperson of the Healthy Families Waitakere Leadership Group Lynette Adams recently signed the Healthy Families Waitakere water pledge reinforcing their stance on healthy food and drinks at Sport Waitakere events. 

Image: Staff from Fernz Catering next to their water promotions during the South-West Winter Field Day event at Netball Waitakere