Clark: Govt should fund America's Cup

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark says there was "no question'' the Government would have to be involved in funding and organising the America's Cup, "a huge thing for New Zealand''.

Miss Clark -a keen fan of the America's Cup - said she was delighted with the Kiwis' 7-1 win this week. "I'm absolutely elated by it. I just wish I could have been in Bermuda for the big day.''

"Undoubtedly when New Zealand hosts a major international sporting event like that, the Government has to be part of it - no question. And the signs are they will be.''

She said it was the same with the Rugby World Cup in 2011 and the two times New Zealand had hosted an America's Cup defence in 2000 and 2003, when Labour was in Government.

"This is a huge thing for New Zealand. This keeps New Zealand in the headlines. It's good for tourism, it's good for marine technology, it's good for the reputation and brand of the country.''

Miss Clark was criticised by National in 2007 when the then-Labour Government agreed to put $38 million into Team New Zealand's campaign. Although National went ahead with the funding, it only put in $5 million for the most recent campaign.

She said there was no question it would be good for New Zealand to host it here as the world's most prestigious sailing event.

Emirates Team New Zealand members celebrate beating Oracle earlier this week. Photo: Reuters
Emirates Team New Zealand members celebrate beating Oracle earlier this week. Photo: Reuters

Miss Clark was speaking at a series of events in Wellington yesterday and said she had been flooded with requests for speaking engagements since leaving the United Nations in April after eight years as head of the UN Development Programme.

She will hit the international speaking circuit in earnest after taking time out for a long-awaited trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway as she adjusts to life after New York and the UN.

Asked about the spate of terrorist attacks across Europe, she said there was always a risk to New Zealanders travelling or living in those countries, despite it not being "on the front line geographically.''

However, she doubted it would put people off travelling. "I suspect Kiwis are a bit philosophical. They've planned the big trip, they're going to do it anyway.

"They'll just be a bit more cautious when they see the white van heading their way, in case that's the one that has a suicidal terrorist determined to kill himself and everyone else.''

She declined to talk about domestic New Zealand politics. However, asked if the late surge of Labour in recent UK elections would have any impact on the election in New Zealand, Miss Clark said unpredictable events in several Western countries showed anything could happen.

"Brexit was unpredictable. The last UK election outcome was unpredictable. The American outcome was unpredictable. Look at France, where the President had barely formed his own party a year ago and came through crushing all the old parties. So, anything can happen in politics.''

She would not discuss US President Donald Trump, saying she was sure New Zealand would "make its luck'' with the new Administration as it had done with those which went before.

She did have a kind word about Jacinda Ardern, who once worked for Miss Clark and is now MP in her former Mt Albert electorate, saying Ms Ardern was a good MP for her old seat - the ultimate compliment.

That may change when Miss Clark has time to watch Ms Ardern's impersonation of her in an interview with Anika Moa for the NZ Herald.

Miss Clark said she had not seen it but laughed and said: "good luck to her.''

- By Claire Trevett


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