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PM 'as nervous as everyone else' for race

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/06/2017

Prime Minister Bill English says he'll be up early to watch the match point America's Cup race between Team New Zealand and Oracle, and he'll be "as nervous as everyone else".

"We don't want to jinx it by getting ahead of ourselves, but it's turned out to be an outstanding display of leadership, teamwork and technological mastery," he told reporters on Monday.

"But we don't want to presume we've won until we actually have won.

"I think everyone is a wee bit more reassured this time but you never know - this is how close we got (last time)"

Asked about future government funding for Team New Zealand, Mr English said the first discussion was going to be about how to celebrate victory.

"I know Auckland City Council is giving that some thought already, I would expect Sports Minister Jonathan Coleman to be in discussion with them."

Funding for the team was something for later on.

"I would imagine if we win there will be some sort of discussion but I have no idea what that discussion will be," he said.

After the San Francisco disaster Team New Zealand asked for help, and the government reluctantly gave it $5 million to help it keep the team together.

It was worried at the time that many Kiwis considered financing the team was a waste of money.

"We were happy with the decision we made," Mr English said.

"Kiwis' interest in it has fluctuated a bit, I think this competition has restored the sense that it's about a couple of teams who aren't dominated by lawyers and financiers, and that it's pure sport.

"I think that is what has got New Zealanders back to watching it."

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