Sport as a tool for social change - South Campus sport development ‘Think Tank’

23 Jun, 2015
Sport as a tool for social change - South Campus sport development ‘Think Tank’
Panel speakers (L to R): CEO of Counties Manukau Russell Preston, Bruce Pulman, Renei Ngawati (AUT), Richard Wright (AUT) and Richard Ajiee (AUT).

Local Manukau sport industry influencers gathered at the AUT South campus in Manukau recently to discuss how sports can be used as a tool for social change and development in South Auckland.

AUT Sport Management lecturer and event organiser Dr Richard Wright says the Manukau community is a growing and diverse sector of Auckland, and sports is a great way to build community spirit and identity.

“It’s important for the community to come together and talk about how we can help promote the social benefits of being actively involved in local sport and recreation, and AUT wants to be a part of those conversations.”

The sessions, which were facilitated by Trustee of Manukau Counties Community Facilities Charitable Trust Bruce Pulman, included presentations from AUT student researchers - Renei Ngawati and Richard Ajiee - and CEO of Counties Manukau Sport, Russell Preston.

As the fourth biggest employer in the Manukau region, Preston said sport has much to offer to the community and that it is important to create opportunities that allow children to continue playing sports into adulthood.

Integration of migrants with sports
In line with the evening’s theme - ‘Keeping it in the community’ - , AUT PhD candidate Richard Ajiee presented his research on sports as a migrant inclusion strategy in South Auckland, where 40 per cent of the community are born outside of New Zealand.

Ajiee explained how sport helps create a sense of belonging and familiarity for migrants. 

“There are many benefits to a successfully integrated migrant, for themselves and for society.

“Sport brings people together and allows them to participate in society.”

Need for Māori values to be deeply engrained in sport education
AUT lecturer Renei Ngawati believes Māori-based learning and relevant co-op opportunities in sport education are key to ensuring Māori development.

“As a University, we help build the capacity and capability of New Zealand’s future workforce, and sports education that incorporates Māori values like identity can positively contribute to increased wellbeing, health, and employment for our indigenous peoples.”