The Government is exploring funding Team New Zealand for another America's Cup campaign.
Documents obtained by the Sunday Star-Times under the Official Information Act reveal discussions have begun between the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Team NZ over "future investment agreements" and "potential investment options".
Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce confirmed the communications refer to taxpayer funding for future America's Cup campaigns, not additions to the $36 million already granted for this year's challenge in San Francisco.
Joyce, who five months ago said the Government had looked into getting out of its current contract with Team NZ - which had been signed by the Labour government at a time when "money was thought to grow on trees" - distanced himself from the latest discussions, saying they are "provisional talks" between Team NZ and MBIE staff.
Joyce has, however, discussed the matter with Team NZ boss Grant Dalton.
"My view is that you wouldn't even talk about this stuff until we know the outcome of the [current] event," he told the Star-Times. "It is really exploratory stuff, it's just literally them [MBIE] saying we need to look at whether we would have something in the future."
A Star-Times investigation in March revealed Team NZ failed to provide information required as part of its $36m deal with the Government for more than a year. The ministry then allowed Team NZ to alter the parameters of its reporting.
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the Government's oversight of public money was "disgraceful" and "extraordinary".
Any future funding, he says, must uphold accountability as paramount.
"I think the large majority of New Zealand public are supportive of Team NZ, it's just a question of whether it's worth the cash."
- © Fairfax NZ News