Go­ing over­board

To hand them a chunk of cash that could oth­er­wise be used to com­bat child poverty or im­prove the health sys­tem, would be scan­dalous.

Weekend Herald - - News -

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.

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