Skip to content

Rangatahi just want to have fun!

Rangatahi just want to have fun!
Young women from the Women’s Organisation of the Waikato Muslim Association with First Step Outdoors staff, after a river trip.

Teenagers experience an increase in outside pressures which changes what they want to do, when, and how. Girls’ participation drops off steeply.

Many spend less time participating, organised sport reduces and informal activities like hanging out with friends taking are more of a priority. But they want to do more and in different ways. Involving young women in designing programmes that meet their needs and embrace their identity increases their engagement. This Insight includes case studies.



Enhance the mana of rangatahi

Enhance a sense of Identity as a strength

  • Listen to young people and act on what you hear
  • Work with strengths and knowledge of young people
  • Be educated/aware about culture, sexuality and gender, disabled rangatahi.

Tailored programmes for rangatahi

  • Target programmes/initiatives to those missing out
  • Co-design with the specific needs of a group to deliver quality experiences
  • Take the initiative: approach, ask, offer
  • Reaching out to minority groups
  • Create welcoming spaces and places

Balance is better

  • Offer a variety of active recreation and sport options including those that are less competitive
  • Incorporate active recreation into daily life
  • Address barriers to active transport for girls

What is the purpose of the project?

Part of a series of Insights written by Lumin and published by Recreation Aotearoa, this case study addresses the declining participation time and range of activities as young people reach their teens. It highlights evidence of the motivations, barriers and enablers for young people, particularly young women, and their participation in sport and active recreation.


Young people participate for fun, fitness and health. Being active makes young people happy – and increased participation correlates with increased happiness.


However, young people face barriers to participation including:

  • being too busy
  • too tired
  • struggles with motivation.

The biggest difference between young men and young women is at 14 years – and is linked to their confidence and own sense of competence [girls are less likely to say they are good at sport].

Clothing has an impact on confidence. For example, girls don’t bike to school because they are self-conscious about cycling in (school) skirts and experience harassment from males. One Irish school’s campaign #andshecycles aims to change that.

What were the enablers that proved successful in your project?

Tactics that work.

1. Our identity is a source of strength, belonging and pride. One size doesn’t fit all

Tailored initiatives that meet young people’s needs work best, and taking a 'balance is better' approach supports quality sport experiences for all young people, regardless of ability, needs and motivations.

2. Reach out to young people

Don’t wait to be asked – create active welcomes, and positive and inclusive environments.

3. Accept, listen, support – don’t make assumptions

Multiple identity groups can offer connection and liberation. Learn about sexuality and gender; cultural needs and mores; support minority participants

What impact did your project have?

Golf NZ has worked hard to increase its appeal to girls and women. It conducted research, established a women and girls national advisory group, and took action to ensure that the game is welcoming, flexible, and meeting the needs of female players of all ages. Golf can play an important role in supporting gender equality and challenging stereotypes.

Wellington City Council worked with skaters and scooters to create more opportunities for young people.

“We wanted to shift perceptions about skaters and scooters being annoying, and engage with their community, build relationships, and and create more skateable places across the city – from dedicated skate parks to skateable streets and public spaces.” Alexi Trenouth, Play and Active Recreation Partnership Lead. Accessibility and design were paramount in the findings which have led to Council investing in an ongoing programme of skate park upgrades. Through the process staff built relationships with groups such as the Wellington Skate Association, Onboard Skate and Wahine Skate.

What were the outcomes for women?

Case Study : Young Muslim women in outdoor recreation

Through the Women’s Organisation of the Waikato Muslim Association (WOWMA) project and First Step Outdoors young Muslim women are participating in culturally safe outdoor programmes that include climbing, abseiling, archery, and ziplining. First Step Outdoors, Waikato worked collaboratively with Aliya Danzeisen, Lead Co-ordinator, WOWMA and National Co-ordinator of the Islamic Women’s Council of NZ to develop the WOWMA Youth Programme.

“Many of these first-generation New Zealanders had protected lives, and hadn’t experienced camping, cooking outside, swimming in rivers and other ‘typical Kiwi experiences’ “Kate Parr, MD of First Step Outdoors.

Key elements of the programme include:

• an all-female staff and no outside people or males allowed on site

• programming around prayer breaks

• taking care to ensure appropriate halal food is provided

• supporting the girls with things that are challenging, especially relating to body image.

Mothers and Daughters camps reassured the mothers who were then more willing to allow their daughters to participate.

Email this Insight

Similar Insights (6)

Subscribe to our newsletter

Our weekly email delivering the latest insights as we publish them, tailored to your tastes.