Recognising New Zealand children’s right to play

Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson welcomes today’s release of a new set of principles from Sport NZ that recognise and protect the right of young New Zealanders to play.

The release coincides with the United Nations Universal Children’s Day, celebrated annually on 20 November to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improvement of children's welfare.

“Fewer Kiwi kids are having the playful, active upbringing enjoyed by previous generations,” says Grant Robertson.

“Play is the simplest form of physical activity and the starting point for equipping children with the motivation, confidence and ability to engage in other forms of physical activity. It’s something that comes naturally to kids, and parents and those working with children can enable and encourage it.

“The play principles acknowledge Sport NZ’s role – along with others in the sport and active recreation sector, together with government and private bodies – in making sure opportunities for children to play are preserved, enhanced and relevant to the world we live in today.

“Encouraging greater physical activity among children is one of my top priorities as Minister for Sport and Recreation so I welcome this as an important step in galvanising action among stakeholders across the country. United Nations Universal Children’s Day is a perfect day to continue this important conversation,” says Grant Robertson.

Notes to editors:

Universal Children's Day marks the anniversary of the UN General Assembly’s Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (in 1989) which defines universal principles and standards for the status and treatment of children worldwide, including an affirmation of children’s right to play.

Play is an integral part of Sport NZ’s Young People Plan, which provides leadership and direction for those working with young people to ensure Kiwi kids develop a lifelong love of being physically active and realise the benefits this brings in terms of health, wellbeing and social connectivity.

Earlier this year Sport NZ collaborated with the Ministry of Health to develop two sets of guidelines (for under-fives and children aged 5 to 17) that also recognise the importance of play for children.

Sport NZ’s play principles are available at