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Our vision: Lower Hutt – NZ’s healthiest people

Taking take-aways out of sport

20 June 2017

There are many benefits to playing sport, from the physical rewards of being active to the social benefits of belonging to a team.  Schools and whanau all around New Zealand encourage their tamariki to take up a sport as a healthy and fun activity. But there is an element to sport in New Zealand that isn’t benefiting our tamariki. All too often across our sporting codes, a tangible reward for participating and succeeding is a Player of the Day certificate that comes with fast food vouchers.

Taking the take-aways out of sport has been a focus for the Healthy Families Lower Hutt team. With the support of Hutt City Council and buy-in from several clubs and codes in the Hutt we’re replacing fast food vouchers with pool passes to Council owned pools. In 2017 almost 6000 Hutt and Wellington junior players will get Go the H2O pool passes instead of potential fast food vouchers. The pool passes offer a double benefit, not only are we removing an opportunity for unhealthy eating but we’re also providing a new opportunity for the player and often their whanau to be physically active at the pools.

To be eligible for the Go the H2O Player of the Day certificates, the sports organisation or club has to demonstrate their pro water kaupapa. Many have made an additional commitment to making their sporting fixtures health promoting environments.

Total Touch Wellington was the first sports organisation to use the Go the H2O Player of the Day certificates. Total Touch reaches approximately 2500 young people every term one and four each year through their Hutt based Touch Rugby modules.

As well as being pro water, Total Touch has been working to make their Touch modules a better way of experiencing sport by making their prize giving packs healthier. “We know big change, starts small and this was a change we wanted to make. With support from Healthy Families Lower Hutt and Hutt City Council we now give our junior players a fun experience at a local pool, and the opportunity to be active again with their families. The feedback from parents has been overwhelmingly positive!” says Bronwyn Jahnke from Total Touch Wellington.

“We’re going to continue making Total Touch a healthier way to experience sport. Our next focus is making sure there are healthier food and drink options available at Hutt and Fraser parks.”

The impact of the Go the H2O Player of the Day certificates is growing. Wellington Rugby League runs the Wellington region junior league competition which reaches around 470 junior players. They have a “Be a Sport” programme to ensure their sidelines are family-friendly and healthy places.  Water is promoted as the drink of choice and sidelines are free of alcohol and cigarette smoke.

Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace presents Go the H2O Player of the Day cert to Rugby League Juniors

Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace presents Go the H2O Player of the Day certificate to Wainuiomata player


Wellington Rugby League uses the Go the H2O pool passes with great success. Healthy Families Lower Hutt and Healthy Futures Trust worked with four local Councils to make sure that the players could access a Council pool near them. The Wellington Rugby League Go the H2O certificates can now be used at pools operated by Wellington City Council, Porirua City Council, Upper Hutt City Council and Hutt City Council.

Go the H2O Player of the Day certificates work at a club level too with Petone Rugby Club using them for their almost 400 junior players.

Removing the link between fast food and junior sport will take concerted effort across all our codes and clubs. By showing the success of initiatives like the Go the H2O Player of the Day certificates we can start to turn the tide on unhealthy sport sponsorship.

Imagine if all our sports clubs modelled good health to our young people. Where water is the drink of choice, good kai is easy to get and drinking alcohol and smoking is not visible to our young people.

Imagine if all fast food vouchers in sport were replaced with healthy active alternatives.