The Right to Play

Children have the right to play, and this right is encapsulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – Article 31: “That every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts”.


Play is an essential part of our tamariki and rangatahi’s physical, cognitive, emotional and spiritual development and overall wellbeing. Play allows our tamariki and rangatahi the space to practice, learn and develop the life skills they need to be active for life including fundamental movement skills, self-directed creativity and innovation, social and emotional connections, resilience, independence, leadership and informed risk taking.

Play week 2024

Sport New Zealand leads Play Week annually to promote the value of play across Aotearoa. The initiative encourages communities to be active through play.


The date for Play Wek 2024 is coming soon!

What is Play?

If we think back to our childhood memories, play is spontaneous, child led and directed, freely chosen with no pre-determined outcome, fun, accessible, challenging, social and repeatable. It is also usually based outdoors in nature, highly active with elements of challenge and risk that test boundaries in an imaginative way.

Check out this video from Play Aotearoa on the importance of play.

Play is under threat

The playful upbringing of previous generations is no longer as accessible to our tamariki and rangatahi due to changing social, environmental, technological and economic pressures. Our young people need the time, space and permission to play but with increasingly structured lives and reduced free time, the loss of traditional play spaces such as streets and driveways, increased fears around safety and risk and a loss of societal connections means play deprivation is becoming an increasing national and international concern.

SNZ/SGT Play Lead Role

Sport New Zealand (SNZ) Ihi Aotearoa and Whiti Ora (SGT) are committed to increasing opportunities for tamariki, rangatahi and whānau to access quality play experiences.

SGT are promoting and advocating the importance of play through:

  • Power of Play Huddles
  • Manu Aute Workshop
  • Play Week Aotearoa

Want to join the play movement or be a play champion? Contact Anna Tolich below.

Anna Tolich

Regional Play Systems Lead