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September 30, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Letters From a Young Contrarian

Dear Reader,

A week on and it still hurts. Being on the wrong end of the greatest sports comeback in history, while competing for the world’s oldest international sporting trophy, hurts. Contrary to’s shameful reporting, we didn’t ‘choke’. We were just beaten by a better boat. In the world of America’s Cup yachting, a better boat can only be bought by big bucks—each team spent $100 million getting their boats on the water. The Auld Mug has turned into the Gold Mug. Team New Zealand was able to raise this money partly as a result of securing sponsorship from Emirates, but also thanks to a $36 million funding grant from the New Zealand Government. That’s a lot of money. Is it justified?


Yachting is a luxury sport the Government cannot afford. Children in South Auckland live in abject poverty. Third-world diseases like mumps and rubella should not be prevalent in a civilised country, but they are. Our children are dying of completely preventable diseases and yet John Key prioritises yachts over tots. It is a moral failing of the government to be sacrificing the most vulnerable members of society on the altar of yachting: a sport which is almost exclusively the domain of rich white men.

We should give the money to a more deserving sport. On the same day we lost the boat race, our national women’s football team won the Valais Cup, beating football giants China and Brazil to get there. They get a measly $800,000 a year. Give them some more money so that we can be the best country in the world at the most popular sport in the world. Or we should just direct the money to the grassroots level of sailing: allow children from all backgrounds to have a go at optimist yachting.


Unless you are someone who believes in the privatisation of playgrounds, it is common-sense to conceive of a Government that funds more than just the basics. That is the reality of most governments around the world. They are there to foster culture; to shape and mould identity. They can make our lives cooler. Here in New Zealand we fund the All Blacks, the Rugby World Cup, TV On Air, The Hobbit, Shortland Street, Lorde, Te Papa and so on, all in the name of giving our nation a personality that we can be proud of. Emirates Team New Zealand is a part of that.

Sometimes, you have to spend money to make money. Had we won, our investment would have paid a handsome dividend. Auckland’s Viaduct would have played host to the next regatta, and the money brought in by tourism alone would far outweigh the money we spent. As it is, we still reap massive economic benefits. Exposure in international news publications is huge—we get on the cover of The New York Times. We shouldn’t underestimate the power of business networking, and the regatta allows New Zealand companies to buddy up to wealthy investors.


With the Government’s support, New Zealand has become a powerhouse in world sailing. Oracle’s boat was built here by a New Zealand company. Their sailing crew had eight New Zealanders, compared with only two Americans. We pretty much did win the Cup. But now that we have steered such a great course, perhaps its time we take a different tack.

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