‘I don’t necessarily agree’ – Christchurch councillor on Russell Coutts’ dolphins comments

It would be a shame for the SailGP event to leave Christchurch after the eventual success of the weekend’s event, a Banks Peninsula councillor says.

Saturday’s racing in Lyttelton Harbour had to be cancelled due to an endangered dolphin on the course, and SailGP chief executive Sir Russell Coutts has called the future of the event into question.

In a statement, Coutts slammed officials for their “extreme” dolphin policy.

Saturday’s incident was “another example of New Zealand being handcuffed by unprecedented layers of bureaucracy and red tape”.

“I find it astonishing the amount of influence iwi have over the authorities here in New Zealand,” he wrote, saying that DoC would not allow SailGP racing in Lyttelton without approval from the iwi.

Coutts wrote that there were marine mammals in the water in all of the locations where SailGP raced world-wide but no other countries required it to agree to such measures.

Racing did go ahead in Lyttelton on Sunday and councillor Tyrone Fields on Monday told Morning Report he had heard positive feedback about the event from many people.

“Everybody I’ve talked to has had a great time and really, really enjoyed it. If it doesn’t come back that’d be a real shame but that’s on the decision making for SailGP,” he said.

He said despite the disruption, he believed in the importance of a plan to protect marine mammals during the event.

“The plan was executed, the plan went really well and I think that reflects incredibly well on SailGP.”

Hector’s dolphins were a protected species and it would be “a terrible look”, if something happened to one, he said.

Asked whether he thought Coutts’ criticisms were justified, Fields said: “He’s got a view; I don’t necessarily agree with it.”

He said Coutts was “heading up a multi-million dollar event, so if it doesn’t always go to plan, that might cause some consternation”.

However, Fields said he was comfortable with the way the weekend had panned out and he hoped the various parties could work together “in good faith” to try and deliver the event in Christchurch again.

Coutts did not respond to Morning Report‘s invitation and SailGP managing director Andrew Thompson declined to appear.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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