March 2021,

Backing Aspiration – New fund to invest in more sports

Sport is changing and so is HPSNZ’s funding model with the introduction of a new Aspirational Fund that will see investment into a broader range of sports to inspire New Zealanders.

Traditionally HPSNZ has targeted funding into sports with a proven potential for podium success on the world stage and funded selected pinnacle event campaigns in other sports. This approach has delivered great success at Olympic Games, Paralympic Games and world championships.

Chief Executive Michael Scott says HPSNZ will stay true to the targeted approach while using the Aspirational Fund to broaden the number and types of sports it invests in from January 2022.

“Our population is changing; the way people engage with HP sport is changing; new sports are emerging at all levels including new Olympic and Paralympic sports. Along with that, established sports are gaining in popularity and participation.

“If we want New Zealanders to stay engaged in high performance sport,  be inspired by what they see and reach their own potential, we must enable these new sports and give them an opportunity to thrive,” he says.

The new fund will have $27.6 million available on a contestable basis from 2022-24.

The need for the fund was identified and prioritised by representatives from across New Zealand’s high performance sector during 2019, during the development of the 2032 High Performance System Strategy. The fund will be implemented as part of HPSNZ’s 2024 Strategy and represents the first phase of a 12-year initiative.

Michael Scott says the Aspirational Fund will be open to current Tier 3 and Campaign sports as well as other sports with high performance athletes or teams, currently not funded by HPSNZ.

He says the fund reflects HPSNZ’s vision of Inspiring Performance Every Day in that it will enable diversity and inclusion in HP sport, fuel culturally distinctive pathways, and encourage those with a passion for a wider range of sports to aim high.

Michael Scott says sports that could potentially benefit from the Aspirational Fund include:

  • currently funded and new sports and disciplines showing short term performance potential
  • sports that engage new audiences in high performance sport
  • athletes and teams that are not immediate podium prospects but could be in the long term
  • sports that directly impact on the variety of culturally distinctive pathways and advance diversity and inclusion goals within HP sport
  • sports that don’t necessarily meet the criteria of what HPSNZ would normally fund but which resonate with New Zealanders.


Investment could include increases to sports within the current portfolio if they can achieve these outcomes, as well as funding for other sports or disciplines that are showing notable growth particularly in youth and girls’ participation.

Michael Scott says basketball, New Zealand’s fastest growing sport in terms of participation, is an example of a sport that could benefit from the Aspirational Fund.

“While the Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns may not be world championship or Olympic medal prospects right now, the sport clearly resonates with New Zealanders. Basketball would have the opportunity to apply, through the contestable Aspirational Fund, for additional investment.”

Details of the Aspirational Fund criteria and application process, which will apply to current Tier 3 and campaign sports, as well as sport which do not currently receive funding from HPSNZ, are expected to be released in April 2021.