When the USA defender moved the America’s Cup from San Francisco to Bermuda after their 2013 defense, there was heartache from the locals, but they also knew it was never their event. Billionaire Larry Ellison owned the team, funded the team’s club, and had twisted the City for event support.
But the situation is different in New Zealand, and the Māori Party has hit out at Team New Zealand’s plans to take the America’s Cup overseas, accusing the Grant Dalton-led syndicate of selling “their souls to the highest bidder”.
“When the Americas Cup gets distilled to how much money rather than how much mana, we have truly lost our way,” Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi said in a statement titled ‘the rort that is the America’s Cup’.
The process to hold the 37th edition of the Cup has become a bidding war after Team NZ turned down a 99 million NZD funding offer from the Government and Auckland city.
Waititi pointed out that Kiwi tax and ratepayers had contributed hundreds of millions of dollars towards various America’s Cup campaigns over the last two decades. He said Dalton and co had shown their “true colors” by rejecting the Government’s offer.
“One hundred million dollars on offer to any code in this country is an offer that no other code from JAB to the All Blacks would refuse. But it was,” Waititi said.
“The privileged, entitled, rich, top end of town, fully funded in previous endeavors by Aotearoa Incorporated have shown their true colors. If the hand-out from government isn’t big enough they will sell their souls to the highest bidder.”
Waititi refused to accept the financial impact from the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse for looking to take the event away from Auckland.
“Do the big boys down town have plenty of money to sponsor their own cup? You bet they do! They’d just rather not use it.
“One week of COVID subsidies to the business community in this country added up to more than all of the Treaty of Waitangi settlements paid out over the last 30 years. Just one week.”
Europe, the Middle East and Asia are potential destinations for the next America’s Cup, and while the door remains open for renewed talks between Team NZ and the government, Waititi said it’s time to farewell the America’s Cup for good.
“The sooner the America’s Cup is banished from our shores, the better,” the statement said. “Invest the $100 million on offer into our poor, our homeless and the real people that require it. The rich have had enough play in the water. Time they pay for their own boats from now on.”