Innovation Unit
Stories from everyday New Zealanders

  • 2021

    Submission # 49

  • Output

    Publication – Pukapuka

  • Kaupapa

    Impact – Social Good

    Identity – People & Culture

  • Location


Project Overview:
The global COVID-19 pandemic has created widespread challenges across Aotearoa and the globe. A silver lining of the pandemic is the opportunity it presents for us to pause and reflect on how we could create a better future together. As kaitiaki (guardian) of the play, active recreation and sport system, Sport New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa embarked on a journey to imagine what the future of physical activity in Aotearoa might look like, and what role the organisation could play in bringing that future to life.

As part of this wider process, Sport New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa was looking to understand New Zealanders’ current experiences of being active, and how active opportunities, spaces, and organisations could change to better serve the needs of all New Zealanders.

They commissioned Innovation Unit to talk to a diverse range of New Zealanders about their experiences of physical activity, as well as people in the system who have an influence over others’ access to physical activity opportunities. By 'system' we mean the people, organisations, spaces and relationships that influence how people are active in Aotearoa.

Sport New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa was particularly interested in hearing from people who are not typically served well by the current physical activity system, including: women and girls, tangata whenua, and those with a disability.

Instead of trying to represent the huge diversity within these groups, the purpose was to talk with people who would likely have different perspectives from those within Sport New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa, to challenge preconceived assumptions and help the organisation think about the future differently.

We wanted to bring their stories to life in a way that was human-centred, visually accessible, and focused on their personal relationship with physical activity over time. To do this, we created visual narratives that combined elements from both journey maps and personas.

Staying true to the commitment Sport New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa has to Te Tiriti o Waitangi was also a priority. We recruited tangata whenua interviewees through trusted relationships, encouraged them to share their stories in whatever way was comfortable, checked back with them to ensure we had captured their stories correctly, and upheld their use of te reo Māori and te ao Māori concepts, such as the strong connection with ātua Māori (Māori gods).

Firstly, we held a system mapping workshop with Sport New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa staff in Wellington and Auckland, as well as an informal kōrero with the Rautaki Māori team, to understand internal views of the system and the role of Sport New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa within it. We also reviewed relevant literature to help us clarify questions and topics for our conversations with people outside the organisation.

We then spoke with nine New Zealanders with diverse backgrounds (across age, ethnicity, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation) about their experiences and perceptions of being active. We also spoke with 11 sector stakeholders from local and central government, Regional Sports Trusts, schools, a rugby club and a university, about their experiences of working with other organisations to support New Zealanders to be active.

We used Miro to synthesise the data online, identified themes and opportunities, and chose 7 stories to highlight different experiences of the system.

Finally, we worked with an illustrator to bring these stories to life. We shared these back with the interviewees and worked with them to get their stories right before sharing them with Sport New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa staff at an all-staff hui.

This marked the start of many conversations between Sport New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa and the wider system about the future of physical activity in Aotearoa. The stories have already sparked new thinking, challenged biases, and for some staff, reinforced what they were already hearing from the communities they work with.

Credits & Collaborators:
Copywriting - Rachel Knight
Experience Design - Rachel Knight, Martin James, Emily Preston
Illustrator - Samuel Joseph
Editor - Emma Scott, Daniella Radaelli, Emily Preston, Martin James, Jade Tang-Taylor
Designer - Rachel Knight

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