New Zealand First threatens to withhold funding from sporting bodies if they don't ban or have policies around transgender athletes

New Zealand First is threatening to withhold funding from sporting bodies if they don't ban or have policies around transgender people. 

The promise is inked into their coalition agreement but, when pressed by Newshub, New Zealand First wasn't able to give a single example of a sport it had concerns about. 

Kate Weatherley is a two-time national champion mountain biker. She's a transgender athlete and she's frustrated. 

"The idea that the biggest threat facing women's sports is trans women is just wrong - things, like pay inequality, abuse from coaches, sexual assault, inequity of opportunity, is so, so much more important," she told Newshub. 

"They're focusing on community-level sport and that is taking away a huge opportunity for our trans and rainbow people, and particularly our trans and rainbow youth." 

New Zealand First's coalition agreement promises to ensure "publicly funded sporting bodies support fair competition that is not compromised by rules relating to gender". 

"We've said that there's no public funding available for sports which don't provide a safe, fair competition for women," New Zealand First sport and recreation spokesperson and former Wellington Mayor Andy Foster said. 

A lot of sporting bodies already have policies in place. Sport NZ has developed a set of transgender guiding principles and the overarching principle is everyone can play grassroots sports. 

"Sporting codes are the best bodies to make decisions around participation and particular activities or competitions but, overall, we should be aiming for a sporting culture in NZ that's inclusive," Labour leader Chris Hipkins said. 

Asked to give an example of where safe and fair competition weren't being provided for women, Foster said: "The party's been approached about it, certainly" but "I can't give an example at the moment". 

Sports Minister Chris Bishop refused to be interviewed about this or even provide a statement, but told the NZ Herald it was a tricky, thorny issue with strong views on both sides and he would be working with sporting bodies.