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The partnership with local organisation Poverty Bay Rugby Union was designed to deliver softball beyond Gisborne and drive connectivity within the regional townships.
Softball NZ
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By engaging communities and developing quality opportunities and experiences for young people Softball New Zealand was able to leave a lasting impact.

Sport NZ Community Impact Award Image-691

From left to right.
Ray Noble (Tairawhiti Regional Development Manager), Glen Roff (Softball NZ Softball Manager), Eddie Kohlhase (High Performance Sport NZ)

The following provides an overview of the Tairawhiti Poiuka project.

Softball NZ partnered with Tairawhiti over recent years culminating in the delivery of purpose-built infrastructure, national team training camps, age-grade national tournaments, and secondary school delivery of our game.

The region has a longstanding relationship with softball and was one of the first associations formed in New Zealand with the establishment of East Coast Softball in 1941 – just 4 years after the national body was formed.

The region suffers immensely with poor regional infrastructure which culminates almost entirely around Gisborne itself. The tyranny of distance is a real barrier for participation in Tairawhiti with no formal sport delivered outside of the city except for rugby.

Following the initial 2020 Covid-19 lockdown periods, the region was highly impacted with job losses in critically strategic industries such as forestry. In addition, the tyranny of distance and cost provided immense barriers for rangatahi to engage in sport. Rural areas such as Tokamaru Bay, Tolaga Bay, Ruatoria, and north to Hicks Bay - which is a 2hr 50min one way journey to Gisborne.

The focus was the community impact rather than Softball outcomes. Softball was just the vehicle to improve Community Health and Wellbeing.

Using the resource of softball, and the wider sporting sector, we supported tamariki and rangatahi in the region of Tairawhiti to ensure positive outcomes, greater community connections, and the opportunity to remove high deprivation as a barrier to participation.

Through our discovery phase it was quickly established that outside of Gisborne itself, there was little, or no organised or structured sport being delivered outside of East Coast Rugby. Therefore, whanau were having to transport our rural rangatahi and tamariki to the city of Gisborne to participate.

The Tairawhiti Poiuka project focused on a school delivery approach, including Kura that enabled a locally led, community supported delivery of sport to rural Tairawhiti.

To achieve our goals a collaborative approach was required. Softball NZ developed a shared service approach with Poverty Bay Rugby to achieve these outcomes. Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti also played a key player in the success of the initiative.

The collaboration has allowed Softball NZ to establish future partnership models moving forward, but more importantly it has given rangatahi and their schools a greater engagement outcome than we could have ever hoped for.