Sport Whanganui and Tākaro-Play

Sport Whanganui in partnership with Sport NZ strongly advocated the importance of play in our communities. Over the past couple of years, Sport Whanganui has been collaborating with national and regional organisations to improve our understanding of play, and identifying ways to improve access and engagement in play.  

We are committed to working alongside our partners and community to empower play and provide leadership and guidance so that Whanganui becomes “The Place to Play”.


What is Tākaro-Play and why is it important?

Play is vital in ensuring young people have the best possible start in life, and has strong links with happier, healthier and better-connected communities.

Children’s free play is defined as unstructured, unsupervised. Free play is not only fun, but it also enables children to learn important skills. Free play develops a wide range of skills: coordination,  visual perceptual, cognitive, social, emotional, physical, relational and self-regulation skills. Play is so much more than that too.

Play in Aotearoa has a long and rich genesis. Through looking back at how we used to play, there is a wealth of mātauranga, traditional practices and frameworks, which can inform how we play now and into the future, so that play has meaning and impact.

Play is:  

  • Intrinsically motivated – it is spontaneous and will happen anywhere 
  • Personally directed – it has limited or no adult involvement 
  • Freely chosen – it is self-determined and has no pre-determined outcome 
  • Fun, accessible, challenging, social and repeatable 

“Kia kawea tātou e te tākaro” 

“Let us be taken by the spirit of play”


Social play

Children learn about sharing and cooperating with others with social play. Social play also helps children to develop their language skills. Taking your child to a playground can be a great way to provide social play experiences. Parent and play groups can also help them meet other children.


“Play is the beginning of knowledge.”

  George Dorsey


Constructive play

Constructive play gives children an opportunity to try drawing, music and building things. Constructive play helps children develop fine motor skills, understand distance and size.

Encourage your child to do arts and crafts and play with building blocks.

Let your child work problems out for themselves during constructive play. This is important. Children’s confidence grows when they can solve problems themselves and they really do have an innate ability to do this!


Make Believe Play

Children love to use their imagination. Enjoy watching or being part of your child’s imaginative play and let them take the lead. That way you all get to enjoy the fun of make believe play too.

Using their imagination through play is good for your child’s communication skills and creativity. You can encourage your child to develop their imagination by giving them props. These could be things such as a whisk and bowl if they are pretending to be a baker. The possibilities are endless.


Nature Play                 

Nature play only requires a small space; it does not have to mean a trip to a National Park. It might be a local park, a small stream, or your own backyard.

The important elements of nature play are things like rocks, dirt, trees, bugs, flowers, mud, and water. Equally important, kids must be free to dig, collect, climb, build, and hide there.

Children learn when they are given the freedom to explore.


“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything than when we are playing.” -Charles Schaefer

Play Principles 

  1. Play is important to the wellbeing of young New Zealanders. 
  1. Play is a cornerstone of our Physical Literacy Approach. 
  1. Play is the shared responsibility of everyone. 
  1. Young people must have access to enriched and varied playful experiences within their local environments. 
  1. Adults must understand what their role is in enabling play. 
  1. Young people need the opportunity to experience risk and challenge through play. 

Are you involved in play or want to be involved?  

Calling all local Play Champions!  

We are hearing from our community that it would be great to have a network of local Play Champions – to learn from and support one another, and help make our communities playful, healthy and safe.  Also, if you have any play ideas for your neighbourhood – it may be as small as a neighbourhood game of cricket – please do get in touch. Email