Horse Power NEC Taupō NEC Christchurch

Strengthen & Adapt

The Strengthen & Adapt programme is a government response to COVID-19, that provides sports organisations and networks with the opportunity to strengthen their capability and capacity post-pandemic, and create a better future for those who take part.  ESNZ is part of that response and is working through the eyes of passionate equestrians who are contributing to the plan for a stronger future for equestrian sports in Aotearoa, New Zealand.  



Working groups have been formed in response to the results of our post-roadshow questionnaire, directing our focus on the areas that respondents saw as being priority.  

  • membership co design ( supporting riders to ride )

  • delivery of events ( supporting riders to ride )

  • volunteer pathways ( strengthening the system )

All groups have met at least once and the members are keen, dedicated and providing lots of fantastic ideas. The Membership co-design group is working on potential membership development ideas that could be explored to improve our membership offerings. The delivery of events group are in discussion around building a North and South Island multi-discipline event with on and off horse options, as a pilot (test & learn) for 2024, with a vision to potentially extend it to regions in 2025 and beyond. The 3rd group – volunteer pathways –  is made up of members who have vast experience on organising committees and a good understanding of what our sport needs in terms of its volunteers.  Discussions have been around creating pathways for volunteers and succession planning to ensure we have a good supply of volunteers at every level.

At present, the three groups are in the discussion phase and will be working on producing some changes and outcomes over the course of the year and the Strengthen & Adapt project span.

On the ESNZ front, our GM of community Jo Colin is developing work in the “One Equestrian Voice” space and has brought the ESNZ discipline boards (dressage, jumping, eventing, endurance and para) together to develop the culture and systems needed for ‘One Equestrian Voice’. Alongside this we are working with Taranaki region to look at a “test & learn” around what a regional “One Voice” can do to drive quality equine experiences and competition.

We look forward to bringing you more updates as the year progresses.


The Strengthen & Adapt Roadshows were now completed and the key themes from the Roadshows are summarised here Summary Report


The Strengthen & Adapt programme includes multiple sports codes, and has been rolled out in four “waves” since July 2020.   Equestrian Sports NZ was selected for the third wave that has included Snowsports,  Special Olympics and the Halberg Foundation among others.  Other waves have included high profile mainstream sports such as Netball, Cricket, and Rugby;  high performance sports including Athletics, Tennis and Rowing; and a fourth wave has included sports Squash, Outdoor Education and School Sports to name a few.  

According to Sport NZ, the original programme was designed in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, when there was little understanding of what a COVID environment really meant for sport and physical activity in Aotearoa.  The programme has since evolved to deliver for multiple partners who are now driving change in order to help create a stronger sector for the benefit of all, into the future.

Source: Swimming New Zealand

Some examples of projects now in implementation include Swimming NZ forming a national collective (see pic) with other aquatic sports such as Diving NZ, Water Polo, and Artistic Swimming to improve efficiency in delivering safe water experiences; and Golf NZ partnering with its 14 District Associations, NZ Māori Golf and NZ PGA to pool resources and bring the golf workforce together under one strategy.

Equestrian Sports CEO Julian Bowden says, “The kaupapa of Strengthen and Adapt is to enable sports like equestrian to co-design a future across all arenas of our sport to share ideas and future build. 

“The equestrian landscape is very broad in this country.  Almost everyone has a connection with horses at some stage in their lives, and the lucky ones get to explore the sport further,” he says.

Sport NZ has found that the sports organisations that have been most successful are those where there has been deep stakeholder consultation.


A recent Roadshow conducted by ESNZ.

“Our organisation has links at multiple levels across the sector, so we are mindful of the many challenges the sport faces.  We want to dig deeper into the root causes and take everyone along for the journey.  We can work collaboratively to design solutions that will build the long term sustainability of a recreation we’re all passionate about, that also offers a competitive pathway.”

ESNZ has been funded by Sport NZ to conduct the programme, and is being supported by a social media campaign and direct communication with equestrian organisations and community groups throughout the country. Workshops have been held at eleven locations across Aotearoa New Zealand, co-ordinated by Equestrian Sports NZ National Development Manager Ashra McAvinue.   [Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Tauranga, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Wellington, Manawatu, Taranaki, Wellington, Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury, Otago, Southland, West Coast].

For more information on Sport New Zealand Strengthen & Adapt: