Bigger Picture

Finally the spat between the Ministry of Silly Talks – sorry the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) – and Team New Zealand has been put to bed. The bigger picture has been seen. Pipes of peace of sorts have been smoked. For now. Recognition of the fantastic job that Grant Dalton has done to get the event live to a grateful worldwide audience has been recognised. We can all move on. The allegations of gross misconduct, a Rule 69 if you like, have been disproven and the whiff of scandal can blow away on the Auckland breeze. Thank goodness.

Copyright: Emirates Team New Zealand / Carlo Borlenghi

This was the story that wouldn’t die. Some auditor, God love ’em, flagged up a concern around a $3m (Kiwi) expenditure that was incurred in creating the AC75 class rule by America’s Cup Event Limited (ACE). This was apparently paid from the MBIE coffers and regarded as not being legitimate. Cue months of negative press for Dalton & Co – a negativity he needed like a hole in the head. On top of a global pandemic and a bunch of shouty challengers, somehow Dalton kept cool. Personally I would have lost it, thrown my hands in the air, had a hissy fit and walked off. They are made of sterner stuff down in New Zealand.

It’s not nice being accused of impropriety. Even worse when it’s unjustified. The story rumbled on. The cloud of scandal hung in the background. The public got involved and the talk shows filled their airtime with endless speculation, rumour and tittle-tattle. Calls for Dalton to stand down were ignored. Thankfully confidence wasn’t lost. The key players in ETNZ stuck to their guns and today the matter was put to bed with a terse release from the Ministry expressing regret for “the manner in which this played out in the public arena and the detrimental reputational impact of the process on ETNZ and ACE, its directors and the teams.” Slam dunk. That’s pretty rare for a government body to issue such a mea culpa. But good for them for doing so.

Copyright: Emirates Team New Zealand / Carlo Borlenghi

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The benefits of the Cup for New Zealand are immeasurable at this time. As an outsider stuck in lockdown amidst Covid hell all round, the projection of this event to a global audience and the subliminal messaging of the country as a leader of western civilisation, a shining light of what good looks like, is worth every penny of a $3m contribution – I would suggest it’s worth several billions.

The government is getting one of the greatest values ever written for a sporting event and the main event hasn’t even begun yet. They don’t appreciate it now but they will. Nothing they could do in government would better what Grant Dalton is leading right now. Wrap him in cotton wool and put him on the pedestal he so rightly deserves. Every country wishes they had a ‘Dalts’ and you won’t know what you’ve got until he’s gone.

Time to move on now and enjoy what will be the sporting event of 2021. Oh to be a Kiwi.

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