National | America's Cup

Māori Party wades into America's Cup controversy, labels it a 'rort'

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The Māori Party has waded into the controversy surrounding the America's Cup labelling it a "rort" and highlighting the anomalies in the funding of Māori creative arts and sports.

The remarks follow Team New Zealand's plans to take the cup defence offshore, after it rejected a nearly $100 million cash and in-kind offer from the Government and Auckland Council to host the event in Auckland, reportedly wanting twice that amount.

"When the America's 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.

"The privileged, entitled, rich, top end of town, fully funded in previous endeavours by Aotearoa Incorporated have shown their true colours. If the hand-out from Government isn’t big enough they will sell their souls to the highest bidder."

Waititi said subsidies paid to the business community during Covid had outstripped Treaty settlements.

"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."

In the Māori Party's view, the money offered for the America's Cup would be better off spent on those who need it.

"The sooner the America's Cup is banished from our shores, the better. Invest the $100 million on offer into our poor, our homeless and the real people that require it."

Team New Zealand said they will remain New Zealand's boat wherever in the world they compete.

“We must explore other opportunities to ensure we can put up another successful defence,” Team New Zealand's Grant Dalton said in a statement.

“No matter where in the world we are, we will always be Team New Zealand – if resources enable an event in New Zealand, we will remain open to it.”

With the America’s Cup receiving $250 million from Auckland and NZ taxpayers for the last cup challenge, Waititi said it would be a "sin" not to point out anomalies in the funding of Māori creative arts or sports.

While the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra receives $16.3 million and the Royal New Zealand Ballet $5.4 million each year, he said Te Matatini received $1.9 million.

"Of the three organisations, only Te Matatini reached its target audience of 65,000. Te Matatini is also the only one of the three with a required online / television audience target of 1 million views and achieved it all. It receives one-seventh of the funding provided to NZSO but is required to achieve higher audience participation rates."