Workforce information on the Sports Turf Industry is difficult to obtain from official data sources (as explained in detail: Data challenges for the Sports turf workforce). Here, we present information from the census data currently available (2006, 2013, 2018) on people whose main occupation was identified as Greenkeeper at the time of the census. While the Greenkeeper occupation is the best fitting occupation classification for Sports Turf workers, this will be an underestimate of the workforce count as people who may be in a Greenkeeper role, may identify as gardeners, landscape gardeners and garden labourers on their census form. We will update this information with census 2023 data when this becomes available.

In 2018, the number of Greenkeepers was estimated to be 3354, an increase of 26% since 2013. Feedback from key industry representatives suggests this number is around half of the current expected Sports Turf workforce.

Greenkeepers are more likely to be older workers, and to be male. A higher proportion of Greenkeepers are older workers. In 2018, 41% were aged 55 or older, compared to 24% across all workers, and 26% of workers in Muka Tangata industries. Few females worked as Greenkeepers in 2018 (7%) but the industry is trying to address this gender imbalance.

There has been an increase in Māori Greenkeepers. In 2018, 18% of Greenkeepers identified as Maōri ethnicity, a substantial increase from 2013 (13%). This is higher than the percentage of Māori workers in all other occupations (13%), and similar to the percentage of Māori workers across Muka Tangata industries (17%) in 2018.

Greenkeepers have an increasing rate of qualification and a high percentage have level 4 qualifications. In 2006 around one third of Greenkeepers reported having no qualifications, by 2018 this was down to 24%. In 2018, a comparatively high percentage (20%) of Greenkeepers had Level 4 qualifications, compared to all other workers (11%), and workers in Muka Tangata industries (10%).

An increasing percentage of Greenkeepers work part-time (fewer than 30 hours per week) up from 20% in 2006 to 28% in 2018. While total personal income of Greenkeepers has remained below that of workers in other occupations, with the gap increasing slightly over time, some of this will be due to differences in hours worked and the increasing trends in part-time Greenkeepers that is not reflected across all occupations. Note we do not have information on wages for Greenkeepers – this reflects income from all sources.


In 2022, there were 295 learners enrolled in Sports Turf programmes and qualifications, 255 as apprentices and 40 as trainees. All were enrolled at Te Pūkenga | Primary ITO.

While overall enrolment numbers have decreased over time, the number of learners enrolled at NZQF Level 4 have remained fairly consistent from 2013 onwards (between 200-255 enrolments). The number of apprentices enrolled almost doubled between 2013 and 2015, remaining consistently around 200 until 2020. There is an increase in apprenticeship enrolments in 2021 and 2022, which may be due to the Targeted Training and Apprenticeship fund.

Industry note that the NZ qualification and training provision in this industry is globally well-regarded because of its focus on practical/on-job skills.

Note that learners are counted in each year they are enrolled, so those in multi-year programmes will be counted in each year.