June 16, 2008

Taranaki Folk Swap Sun and Sand for Work Place Pressures


WORK pressures are keeping Taranaki people away from enjoying a day at the beach.

A survey has found a marked difference in the number of people able to enjoy time at local beaches, rivers and lakes than 20 years ago.

Work, family commitments and the cost of travel have taken a chunk out of leisure time and the results come as no surprise to Sport Taranaki, which is battling to keep the community fit and healthy.

In 1984, a survey found 99% of people headed off to play at the beach and in and around rivers and lakes.

But a similar survey carried out last summer, when it was drier and warmer than normal, found only 90% had visited any beaches in the previous year.

A total of 61% said they would love to go more often but were hindered by work commitments. Just 1.6% said they had no interest in heading off to the beach, rivers or lakes.

The Taranaki Regional Council released the survey results at its policy and planning meeting on Thursday.

TRC technical officer Jane Bowden told the meeting that 500 Taranaki people were asked to take part in the postal questionnaire. There was an excellent response from 418 residents.

Sport Taranaki chief executive Howie Tamati said the survey confirmed what his organisation was up against.

Sport Taranaki, whose mission is to ensure a healthy and active community through programmes such as Push Play, was focused on "trying to encourage people to get out there".

"But they are affected by earning a living," Mr Tamati said.

Fewer people today had the freedom to take advantage of leisure opportunities.

The Employment Contracts Act brought about a significant change to New Zealand society when it effectively destroyed the traditional 40-hour, five- day week, Mr Tamati said.

"This has been acknowledged, but this is the first time we've had the hard evidence."

Parents were now often working shift work or nights and days, which meant that families could often not get out together with both parents.

Sport Taranaki would be keen to use the survey to address what was happening in the community, Mr Tamati said.

At the council meeting, councillors were amused to hear that it was the male of the species who spent more days at the coast, rivers and lakes for recreational purposes.

One suggested that it was men who had more time to do so, while another suggested they wanted to escape the house.



* Oakura Beach is no longer as popular as it was 20 years ago. The most frequently visited now are the New Plymouth beaches of Fitzroy and East End followed by Opunake and New Plymouth's coastal walkway.

* Youngsters pick Fitzroy and Opunake as their favourites while older folk prefer Ngamotu and the coastal walkway.

* Since 1984, Opunake Beach has increased in popularity while Oakura Beach has decreased.

* Walking, swimming and relaxing were the most popular activities.


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