Walk On Aotearoa (WoA) is a not-for-profit social movement established by AUT’s Dr Richard Keith Wright, Senior Lecturer in Sport Entrepreneurship and Event Management. Dr Wright’s dream is simply to get more New Zealanders walking together, walking tall and walking towards a happy healthier life. He also wants to increase the number of people who spend their mornings, afternoons and/or evenings indulging in a little bit of plogging. He hopes to inspire you to ‘Plocka upp’.

There is plenty of scholarly research that proves walking is one of the most effective and efficient forms of physical exercise. Walking saves lives. Walking changes lives. Walking improves lives. Walking can improve your heart rate and circulation, increase your muscle and bone strength, and decreases your risk of osteoporosis (which causes brittle bones). It can improve your balance, which can help to reduce the risk and severity of falls, It is a low impact form of energy expenditure, which burns kilojoules and helps you lose or maintain a healthy weight, overall health and wellbeing, self-esteem and stress levels (Ministry of Health, 2018).

Plogging has all the same benefits of going for a walk or run (it actually uses more muscles). Like walking, plogging is ideal for people of all ages and fitness levels. It can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be. Plogging incorporates the benefits of physical movement with that of doing something good for your local community (and society in general).

Social capital, according to the New Zealand Treasury, refers to “the social connections, attitudes and norms that contribute to societal wellbeing by promoting coordination and collaboration between people and groups in society”. Communitas, according to Anthropologist Edith Turner, is “inspired fellowship; a group’s pleasure in sharing common experiences; being ‘in the zone’ – as in music, sport, and work; the sense felt by a group when their life together takes on full meaning”.

WOA was inspired by the lyrics of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, written over half a century ago by Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers. It was first released in 1963 by Gerry and the Pacemakers and made famous by the fans Liverpool Football Club. Dr Wright hopes that those who join his social movement will soon find themselves walking tall, with hope in their hearts and more importantly with their head held up high. Another influential song was written by Mark Knoffler and released by Dire Straits in 1985 on their Brothers in Arms album. Plogging requires dedication and devotion. It’s about putting action into motion. The song title? ‘The walk of Life’.

Those wanting to walk together can follow the movement on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Walk-On-Aotearoa-115854656452136/ or connect with Dr Wright through email richard.wright@aut.ac.nz or via linkedIn @ https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardkeithwright/