Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced two new High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) initiatives to support athletes as part of her address to the Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) Adecco Prime Minister’s Dinner this evening.
The Prime Minister announced that Performance Enhancement Grants (PEGs) will now be the same value for Paralympians and Olympians. Currently grants for Olympians can be up to $20,000 more. The Prime Minister also announced a health insurance plan for all carded athletes – recognising that the hard work and sacrifice that comes with excellence on the world stage is the same for all of our elite athletes.
“I’m delighted to announce that High Performance Sport New Zealand has confirmed parity of Government-funded Performance Enhancement Grants (PEG) for Paralympians and Olympians alike,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“It’s only fair that Para athletes will be rewarded for their outstanding achievements in an equitable way.
“Since the Rio 2016 and PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Games, there has been amazing public support for our Paralympians, and this announcement further illustrates how critical these athletes are to the New Zealand sporting community and how they are equally valued,” PNZ Chief Executive Fiona Allan said.
“Our Para athletes are incredible role models that have inspired Kiwis to think differently about disability.”
The agreement will see Paralympic and Olympic medallists supported equally through direct financial grants to enable them to train full time, in order to maximise their international performance.
“Paralympians are an integral part of our high performance system and we need to ensure we recognise their achievements,” said HPSNZ CE Michael Scott.
“While Para athletes have always received parity in relation to athlete support such as Prime Minister’s Scholarships and Athlete Performance Support, this was an area where a discrepancy existed and I’m delighted that we’ve brought parity and equality to our PEGs programme.”
Prime Minister Ardern joined New Zealand’s most decorated Paralympian Sophie Pascoe and Paralympic cycling hopeful Nicole Murray as keynote speakers at the fifth edition of the gala dinner, which marked Paralympics New Zealand’s 50th anniversary as the National Paralympic Committee.
“I’m inspired by Paralympic New Zealand’s vision of ‘Excellence and Equity through sport’. You are part of a worldwide social change movement which uses the power of sport to promote a more diverse and inclusive society – an objective that is right in line with what this Government seeks to achieve,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“I had the privilege of meeting the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympics team when they returned to New Zealand. Like any high performance athlete you speak to – it was obvious that sport was part of their DNA – Kiwis love to take on the world and win. Of course, with that comes all of the hard work to get to the world stage.”