|dc.description.abstract||Policies aiming to enhance sport participation and physical activity are prone to change and highly influenced by shifting government priorities. This thesis intended to investigate the effects, consequences and trade-offs emerging for regional sports trusts (RSTs) brought about by a narrowing focus within the sector away from promoting health and physical activity, and by their role in implementing the new Kiwisport initiative. Drawing from Rist’s (1998) theoretical triad, this research examined the challenges for RSTs in relation to: 1) how a policy problem is recognised or redefined and, 2) how the inherent assumptions and features associated with selected policy instruments influence delivery. Given the paucity of international research examining sport participation policies, this thesis sought to contribute to understanding the challenges of implementation through a comprehensive account of the New Zealand context.
This study employed a qualitative approach, with data gathered through document analysis and interviews with eight selected chief executives of RSTs around New Zealand. Drawing from Rist’s triad three key findings emerged from the collated data. Firstly RSTs are situated within a complex and fragmented sector that has evolved over the past decade. A change in their funding distribution model by key stakeholder SPARC, compounded with the introduction of Kiwisport has presented RSTs with a paradoxical challenge, in that whilst a specialised delivery of policy objectives and initiatives at the regional level has been encouraged there is a risk of further fragmenting the sector, making it more difficult to attain a coherent and efficient national strategy.
Secondly the inherent nature of implementing a contractual policy instrument (Kiwisport’s Regional Partnership Fund), has bought rise to a disjuncture in goals between the top-down requirements of SPARC and the government, and the bottom-up needs of the community groups the instrument is targeting. Whilst the monetary incentive insures the former will be met, the risk for not meeting the needs of the community has significant implications for important community links and partnerships.
Finally, a third key finding of this research was the fraught objective for RSTs to sustain new programmes and initiatives that have been developed through the Kiwisport initiative in the longer term. Despite both SPARC and RSTs signalling its importance to the success of the scheme, sustainability is heavily dependent on communities for financial support following the government’s initial ‘seed-money’ - an implausible proposition for many communities given the current economic climate. Furthermore the propensity for sport participation policy to be so heavily influenced by changing government priorities and ideals surrounding how to deal with the ongoing issue of physical inactivity, has affected the capacity of many RSTs to be able to commit to an initiative in the long-term and consequently allow for results to be evidenced.||