Empty cup

I know not everyone agrees with public money being spent on the America’s Cup. Personally, I am all for it, but I get it if you don’t agree. The thing is though, that now we have won the Cup again and are going to have to run a defence, it makes total sense for at least some public money to go into the campaign. The public funds anchor the event (pun not exactly intended, but I thought it was a good one) and, once it has been established that the regatta will go ahead in New Zealand, then the sponsors will come forth with their large chequebooks and start to make the event happen. Without the government underwriting the event, it simply may not eventuate. That is not to say that the next challenge will not happen at all, because it will. But, without a bit of government support, it probably wouldn’t happen here. We need the event to take place here, whether we retain the cup or not.

Once some funding for the event was announced in the budget, out came the objectors, with their myriad of excuses. Here again is our little friend Joel Maxwell, te reo speaker extraordinaire, who wants to see the funds used in other ways. This from Stuff: Quote:

Priorities are what make Budgets interesting. Budgets are, after all, just giant versions of what we do every day in our lives: We make choices about how we spend our money.

I’m often delighted and horrified when Governments share my approach. I know it’s wrong, but there’s something that lights up in my heart when they buy garbage too.

This Government has decided to spend $100m on a support package for hosting the America’s Cup in Auckland.

I see there was much made of the fact the money would not go directly to Team NZ, which to me is somehow worse. We don’t even get a catamaran to keep at the end of it all. We could use it for weekend outings, activities. Emergency housing.

Meanwhile, in the dusty corner of Budget coverage that was Māori development, there were a couple of stories about $15m in new funding, to be shuffled out over four years, to help rangatahi – young people – without jobs, training or education. There’s about 84,000 of them, we were told. That’s a whole city’s worth of emptiness.

Flicking between internet tabs of Budget stories, I realised a life without dreams, decent work, or connection to te ao Māori leaves our kids in a limbo that no amount of high-end yacht racing can fix. End quote.

I never quite know if this guy is a brilliant satirist or a total moron, but I lean towards the latter. You wouldn’t be able to sail an America’s Cup catamaran, sunbeam, for your weekend outings. Not even close.

It reminds me of John Key’s flag referendum. The cost was about $43 million. I heard of so many ways that the $43 million could or should have been spent, and it probably ended up as at least $860 million. Now we are going to go down the same road with the America’s Cup funding which, according to Joel, should be spent on young Maori: rangatahi, to be precise.

Of course, he forgets about the billions of dollars that have gone into treaty claims over the last 30 years, where the money was meant to be used to benefit all members of the iwi or tribes: money that was intended to lift Maori out of poverty and give rangatahi an education and a future. Quote:

Right now I have a unique perspective on the issue. I am learning te reo Māori fulltime, and for the second time in life I have cheated my circumstances. I was just a journalist and now I’m some place where the leadership and generosity of teachers and students is remaking me.

This is where rangatahi should be. This place, these people, should be getting more money.

Take that $100m and use it for Māori development by and for Māori. End quote.

Like the health budget, Maori development is a massive hole to throw money into. I’m not saying that it hasn’t been effective in some areas but, however much you throw at it, it is never enough. If you take Joel’s logic to the extreme, we would never spend on anything else, and it still wouldn’t be anywhere near enough.

The trouble is that people like Joel inevitably cannot see the bigger picture. Sure, it may just seem like $100 million blown on a yacht race and nothing more, but after the spectacular events of 2000 and 2003, we know better. The money that pours into the country as a result of these events is simply massive. More spending in local businesses, more GST and more income tax. The $100 million of government funding will be a drop in a bucket if things go the same way as they did in the last two regattas. These are huge spectacular events that get an enormous amount of international coverage, and little old New Zealand is showcased to the world once again. More tourists, more visitors, more high-value residents… all good for the country. We’d be lost without it.

After the event, of course, some of that money can then be used to help some of the rangitahi, Joel, if the government see fit. Like it or not, the government chose to limit spending in this area in the latest budget. Maybe they decided that the rangitahi were just too much of a bottomless pit. Whatever their reasoning, there it is. I, for one, think that they got it right this time.


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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

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