To hand them a chunk of cash that could otherwise be used to combat child poverty or improve the health system, would be scandalous.
Lizzie Marvelly had been looking forward to the America’s Cup returning to Auckland waters, but now she’s not so sure. She thinks Team NZ’s demands for taxpayer money are over the top and today has a message for the team —“pull your head in”.
New Zealanders want to get behind the boat but we won’t be played for fools
When someone gets a bit too big for their britches, it is our Kiwi duty to point it out. We’re a modest bunch, fiercely proud of our little nation at the edge of the earth, and we don’t think particularly highly of people who forget where they came from.
Which is why Team New Zealand need to pull their heads in.
Until recently I’d been excited about the prospect of an America’s Cup regatta in Auckland in a few years. I grew up a staunch fan of Sir Peter Blake and Black Magic, and the thrill of seeing the Kiwi boat cross the finish line first has never left me. I was looking forward to having the opportunity to support Team NZ at home.
Then I heard about Team NZ’s demands for a “hosting fee” to be paid by the New Zealand taxpayers, and read the reports that they could take the regatta to Italy or Abu Dhabi if they don’t get what they want. I felt my excitement quickly ebbing away.
Frankly, if Team NZ feel that way — if the longstanding support of New Zealanders means that little to them — they should go. And they should come up with a new name while they’re at it. To my mind, you can’t be called Team NZ when you’re willing to throw your home country under the bus if a better offer comes along.
What is the price of loyalty and years of passionate support? More or less than $ 80 million? We may be about to find out.
Both the Government and the Auckland Council have reported in the last week that hosting the Cup in Auckland is by no means a done deal.
“If any one of the parties becomes unreasonable,” Minister for Economic Development and Environment David Parker told Newstalk ZB, “we could lose it.”
To that end, Grant Dalton recently went to Tauranga, supposedly under the guise of looking for an alternative hosting location — but the local mayor wasn’t fooled. “It would be fantastic but I don’t want to get my hopes up,” Greg Brownless told the Bay of Plenty Times, “because there could be various reasons why they are doing this. One might be to cause Auckland to make a decision if they think it could possibly go elsewhere.”
Such moves might’ve worked when dealing with billionaires, but in my view stunts like that are unlikely to win Team NZ many fans around the negotiating table here in New Zealand.
To be very clear, I want the Cup to be hosted in New Zealand, and the only city that would realistically have the infrastructure and be able to commit to the level of investment needed would be Auckland.
I understand that the regatta will be valuable to our economy, and that it will be an expensive event to put on, but for Team NZ to expect the public to not only shell out for infrastructure upgrades, wharf extensions, bases and events surrounding the competition ( work that will undoubtedly cost hundreds of millions of dollars), but also to hand them a chunk of cash that could otherwise be used to combat child poverty or improve the health system, is scandalous. Especially when you consider Kiwi taxpayers have already given Team NZ millions over the years.
In 2000, taxpayers contributed $ 10m to the construction of the Viaduct harbour ( on top of the many millions given by Auckland ratepayers), and gave further funds to the event itself. In 2003 we gave $ 8.6m to support the Cup defence. In 2007, we gave $ 33.75m to Team NZ, and in 2013, a further $ 36m. This year, we’ve already given them $ 5m, just to keep the team together. So we’ve hardly been miserly. In my view, however, gratitude doesn’t seem to be Team NZ’s strong suit.
I’m not entirely against public funding being used to support the event. I support the idea of co- investment. I believe a Cup defence would be a wonderful thing for Auckland and New Zealand, and as such I support plans to make the improvements necessary so that visitors to our shores will have a great Cup experience ( and locals will continue to enjoy the results of such an investment long after the last race is over).
I am against the kind of corporate welfare Team NZ seem to be seeking, in my view playing off council and Government to try to suck valuable tax and ratepayer dollars out of the public coffers.
If that’s the game they want to play, they can go and jump in the sea.
This outrageous demand for a multimillion- dollar hosting fee to be paid by taxpayers — or else — is a slap in the face to New Zealanders who have supported Team NZ, both emotionally and financially, for decades. It’s also an insult to the memory of Sir Peter Blake, under whose watch no such fee was ever expected from the New Zealand public.
Team NZ need to reflect on their behaviour and come to the negotiating table with a bit of humility. New Zealanders want to get behind the team, to see them triumph again in the tradition of the mighty Black Magic, and to be immensely proud of our talented sailors, but we won’t be played for fools. It’s time for Team New Zealand to live up to the name.
Team NZ wants a hosting fee for the America’s Cup to take place here.