Kau Mai Tonga

Netball Australia’s partnership with Tonga Netball Association (TNA) through the One Netball Pacific program has built their capacity to meet the demand for netball created by the Kau Mai Tonga campaign. 

Kau Mai Tonga (KMT) is an Australian Government initiative that is working to increase the level of physical activity amongst women and girls in Tonga between the ages of 15 and 45.  The initiative is a partnership between the Governments of Australia and Tonga, and Netball Australia.  It is delivered through Tonga’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Health in collaboration with TNA. 

Tonga has the second highest prevalence of obesity in the world and women in Tonga are considerably more sedentary than men.  The program uses a strategic health communication campaign to encourage women and girls to get more active through netball and culminates in large-scale netball tournaments across the country. 

Kau Mai Tonga, Ke Tau Netipolo means ‘Come on Tonga, let’s play netball’ and is the catch-cry for the program which is promoted through six-week mass media campaign phases annually.  The first campaign phase stated in 2012 with messaging differing each year to try and increase women’s and girls’ knowledge about the health risk of being inactive and improve attitudes towards women participating in physical activity. 

Overall, since the launch of the program, more than 560 netball teams have taken part in KMT events, involving almost 4,000 women of all ages, compared to just 27 teams (or 215 women) playing before the campaigns.  In addition, an evaluation conducted after the first phase of the campaign showed that: 

Over 90 per cent of women reported being aware of the campaign and as a result, up to 86 per cent felt concerned about the effect of physical inactivity on their health; 

Key campaign messages achieved significant recall indicating the campaign reached its target audience and built knowledge about required levels of physical activity and raised risk perception; 

40 per cent of all women in the target age group took part in physical activity on three or more days of the previous week.  Overall, 58 per cent reported undertaking at least some physical activity in the previous week; 

These physical activity levels amongst the target group were much higher than reported in the 2012 World Health Organisation STEPS report where 92 per cent of women aged 15 to 64 engaged in no vigorous physical activity. 

KMT has been recognised for its innovative partnership approach with a World Health Organisation Best Practice Award through the Healthy Islands Recognition program. The program was also nominated for a SportAccord award, and shortlisted from over 350 entries for a Sport for Health Award at the Beyond Sport awards.  Netball Australia and TNA also jointly presented on the program at the 6th International Working Group World Conference on Women and Sport, and the program has hosted a range of foreign dignitaries including visits from the Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls’, Natasha Stott-Despoja, and the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Julie Bishop MP.