The New Zealand marine Industry today welcomed the announcement that Emirates Team New Zealand will be challenging for the next America’s Cup, and receiving Government funding to do so.
NZ Marine executive director Peter Busfield says the challenge will create new jobs in the industry and attract lucrative new contracts from overseas for New Zealand businesses.
'Every time Emirates Team New Zealand sets sail in a high profile regatta it is like the New Zealand marine industry taking a full page colour ad in all of the world’s major boating magazines,' he says.
'It strengthens brand New Zealand, it reminds the world that we are among the very best at what we do and it directly creates new business for our Kiwi companies.'
Peter Busfield says Emirates Team New Zealand is like the marine industry’s equivalent of the All Blacks.
'Internationally, the New Zealand marine industry has enormous respect. We are generally acknowledged as the cleverest, most innovative and the most efficient creators of high tech boats and marine equipment in the world.
'Like the All Blacks, that reputation has been built up over a considerable amount of time and is based on performance after performance at the very highest level.
'Again, just like the All Blacks, if we stop performing on the international stage and stop showcasing our hard-won reputation for excellence, that reputation will quickly diminish and so will the very real value we earn from it.'
Peter Busfield says the decision by America’s Cup holders Oracle to build the AC45 trial horses in Warkworth is a great example of how our international reputation translates into both jobs and financial gains for the economy.
'Oracle could have chosen to build these leading-edge yachts anywhere in the world. Specifically, they could have chosen to build them in California, where they are based.
'Instead, they chose to build them here because they knew just how good our industry is.
'As a result, the world is now again marveling at our technology, our ability to create such incredible machines in such a short timeframe and our ability to do all that on a tight budget.
'That is our reputation and, every time Emirates Team New Zealand appears on a TV screen, in a magazine story or on a website, they help maintain and strengthen that reputation.'
Peter Busfield says the AC45 project alone has been worth an estimated $20 million to the New Zealand economy and created over 150 jobs.
'And that is just the start. In 2007, Emirates Team New Zealand challenged for the America’s Cup and, although they did not quite win, the provided a definite and quantifiable boost to the New Zealand marine industry.
'International media clamoured for more information about our industry and the way we had put together such a credible challenge after the disappointment of 2003.
'On the back of that interest, we saw signifcant increases in the numbers of superyachts being built here, the number of superyachts coming here for multi-million dollar refits and the number of New Zealand-built marine products sold internationally.'
Peter Busfield says that has helped create an industry already worth $1.71 billion to the New Zealand economy and forecast to grow to $2.7 billion by 2015. It is also an industry that employs around 10,000 people and has more than 500 more in training as apprentices by the NZMITO (New Zealand Marine Industry Training Organisation).
And there is potentially an even greater gain, too.
By entering a well-funded, creditable challenge, Emirates Team New Zealand has created the very real possibility that they could win the America’s Cup and bring the event back to Auckland.
Should that happen the benefits for both the industry and the country as a whole will be enormous.
When New Zealand last hosted the America’s Cup, in 2003, independent studies showed that the event generated more than half a billion dollars of additional spending that would not otherwise have occurred.
That income came not just from the syndicates and their supporters but also from visiting superyachts and their guests, international visitors, overseas media and from international sponsors and businesses.
And, while the marine industry received its share of this additional income, so too did many other sectors of the economy.
Supporting the Government’s decision to help support the Emirates Team New Zealand challenge, Peter Busfield says critics need only look to the last ETNZ challenge to see the benefits this funding can create.
In 2003 the then Labour Government invested more than $30 million dollars to help Emirates Team New Zealand mount a credible campaign. In 2008, they commissioned an independent report to see whether that investment had generated a worthwhile return.
The report found that the New Zealand economy had been boosted by $2 for every one the Government had invested. GDP had been boosted by $60-$70 million dollars and up to 900 full-time equivalent jobs had been created throughout the country.
'After a quiet couple of years, the wealthy sectors in both Europe and the United States are again starting to commission high ticket items like superyachts and grand prix sailing yachts,' says Peter Busfield.
'This means New Zealand could well reap even greater benefits from a Emirates Team New Zealand challenge than we did in 2003-07.'