The America's Cup was barely in Team New Zealand's hands before the Prime Minister and the Mayor of Auckland were being asked whether public money would be put into the defence.

Bill English hedged, Phil Goff was forthright. The private sector should contribute the bulk of the cost, he said. The Auckland Council did not have much money to spare.

Nothing should be said at this stage that would encourage Grant Dalton and company to believe they need not work quite as hard raising corporate sponsorship next time because a New Zealand Government would not now dare let them sink.

At the end of the day, as someone else used to say, there probably will be public money in the event, hopefully just for the infrastructure it will need. But no contribution should be committed for the costs of the enterprise unless the end is near.


Dalton will not have forgotten the adverse public reception to the suggestion the taxpayers should contribute to the costs of the now successful challenge.

He as much as English and Goff surely does not want to spend the next four years hearing people complain, "You say we can't afford to spend more money on education, health and housing yet you can spend $XX million on a yacht race."

That complaint is perfectly valid.

The money governments take from business and citizens ought to be used for needs that private enterprise can not provide profitably.

The America's Cup is a very profitable enterprise for its leading participants, as can be seen in the houses they have built for themselves.

Few begrudge them their wealth since it has come from private and corporate sponsors who must be satisfied they are receiving value for their outlay. There ought to be no grounds for suspicion the taxpayer has contributed to mansions.

The previous Labour government put $38 million into the challenge at San Francisco, the present Government put $5m in to keep the operation together after that defeat. With no government contribution to the campaign at Bermuda, the result was different.

That is not to blame soft money for the 2013 failure but obviously the refusal of public money did not cripple the enterprise at Bermuda.

Infrastructure is different. It remains long after the Cup has gone and the city is richer for it.

Dalton will not need to emulate Sir Peter Blake in putting pressure on public bodies to provide suitable facilities. The Viaduct Harbour testifies to the lasting value Auckland has received.

This time an extension of the Viaduct with a wharf beyond the Events Centre might accommodate the yacht bases.

But Wynyard Wharf ought not be ruled out. It contains the tank farm that is supposed to be moved off the wharf within the next decade.

If those unsightly silos were moved sooner, the large wharf would seem ideal for the bases. It would give them ample room and proximity to the marine servicing industry on that side of Westhaven Marina.

The wharf is also adjacent to the bars and cafes of the Wynyard Quarter.

The return of the Cup offers exciting possibilities if Team NZ make the right decisions. Over to them.