PM Jacinda Ardern cautious over Pacific Super Rugby bid

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has taken a "wait and see" stance to the prospect of funding a Pacific team in Super Rugby.

But she's warned the 'Pacific Force' proposal wasn't something the Government usually invested in.

On Tuesday, Newshub revealed an $80,000 feasibility study, conducted by New Zealand Rugby and funded by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), into establishing a franchise based in Suva, Fiji, but playing 'home' games in Samoa, Tonga, Auckland and Sydney.

The team could be part of Super Rugby within two seasons, and has been widely supported by NZR chairman Brent Impey, new board member and former Manu Samoa coach Sir Michael Jones, and the Pacific Players Association.

Revealed: NZ Govt's secret plan to set up Pacific Islands Super Rugby team

But Ms Ardern was cautious about endorsing the report, which was initiated by the National Government under former Rugby World Cup, Sport & Recreation, and Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.

"This was new to me," Ms Ardern admitted to The AM Show. "It was a feasibility project that [McCully] put in place to see if it was something that would viable and the impact it would have.

"I've asked some question now about what the result of that was, so it's a little bit of a 'wait and see' for me, because I haven't seen all the outcomes of it yet.

"It certainly wouldn't be something, right of the bat, that I would have thought would fulfil our criteria." 

Ms Ardern admitted the Government did invest in sport around the Pacific, as part of an ongoing aid programme.

"Particularly in places like Tonga and Samoa... we support rugby and netball. I've visited some of the programmes, particularly for young people, because there is value from a health perspective and for youth development.

"This is different and that's why I really want to look at it to make sure we get the outcomes we expect from aid."

The report suggests that promoting a Pacific rugby franchise would also help combat China's spreading influence in the area.

Ms Ardern said the Government usually targeted projects that would reduce costs across the region in areas like climate change and renewable energy sources.

"We have to focus on the money and support we give to improve our relationship, our role and pick up our bit of responsibility," said Ms Ardern.

"Those are the kinds of projects that, in the past, we've prioritised, but I don't want to get ahead of myself. I want to see what the outcome of that work was, but it's a bit more unusual than the kinds of things we usually invest in."