Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says America’s Cup will go ahead, but pleased investigation is underway

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Auckland Mayor Phil Goff won’t be drawn on allegations Team New Zealand has mishandled public money while an investigation is underway.

Team New Zealand base at Auckland viaduct for America's Cup

The Team New Zealand base at Auckland’s Viaduct Basin for the America’s Cup. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Team New Zealand denies any wrongdoing, but the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is looking into claims made by an unnamed contractor about financial mismanagement.

Police are also involved in the scandal swirling around Team New Zealand and its events arm, America’s Cup Events.

Goff said he was pleased an investigation was underway, because it would get to the bottom of the concerns that have been raised and whether any further action needed to be taken.

He has not spoken to Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton about the matter.

Team New Zealand is defending the syndicate’s handling of public money.

Dalton said the team would prove there had been no misuse of public money.

“I think it has to be proved because I can say [there has been no misuse] until the cows come home but until it is actually proved, and we find the motive … until you prove it perfectly to those people like MBIE, let’s wait and see.”

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Goff told Morning Report: “It is what it is and it’s serious allegations made. I don’t know whether they are accurate or not accurate, but it’s our obligation to make sure those sorts of allegations are thoroughly and professionally and independently investigated.

“While council hasn’t put any money at all into the America’s Cup events fund … we do have an interest in ensuring the event is delivered effectively, we are the host city, so an investigation is important.

“From the point of view of the taxpayers funds … and as a taxpayer, I, along with everyone else, want to know if there is any substance to these allegations, if so, we want to act on them.

“We can’t pre-empt the outcome of that investigation.”

Mayor Phil Goff said Auckland was experiencing its worst drought on record.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff wants the allegations investigated “thoroughly and professionally and independently”. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Council was contributing to the construction of infrastructure for the event. The only other money it would put into the event was to pay for traffic and safety management, Goff said.

“We are not putting any money into the fund that is in contention at the moment. Our interest is not a financial interest as a city, it’s an interest that taxpayers money was spent properly.

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Goff first learned of the concerns about a fortnight ago from his council chief executive.

“The matter there on in was handled by the chief executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and the chief executive of Auckland Council as properly it should have been.”

He said the Cup would still go ahead.

“We want to showcase what Peter Burling and his team can do… we are proud of an achievement a small country can do… and that’s a great way of showcasing both Auckland and New Zealand to the world.

“While I regret that this situation has arisen, when it did arise you have no option but to deal with it with integrity and transparency and that’s what is being done.”

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