NZTE spend $30k on greenstone gifts for staff

Greenstone / pounamu is a precious stone used for jewellery and other decorative items.

Greenstone / pounamu is a precious stone used for jewellery and other decorative items.

A government agency has spent $30,000 on buying greenstone as gifts for their staff.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) bought hundreds of pounamu pendants for their staff members in June last year, documents from their financial review revealed.

The gifts, totalling $30,060, were to reward the high performance ratings the agency had recently received, from a poor review in 2011.

Labour's trade and export growth spokesperson David Clark said it was "extravagant spending", dubbing it the "greenstone giveaway".

"This raises serious questions. How did NZTE think this was a wise use of money? Why on earth would every staff member need a pounamu?" Clark said.

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"There's no doubt that NZTE staff are hard-working but jewellery for bureaucrats sets an unfortunate precedent."

However, the agency's minister Steven Joyce said it was "laughable" to suggest government agencies carelessly spend money when they had reduced office space and saved "tens of millions" in office rentals and reduced headcount.

"I understand the gifts of approximately $60 per head were a thank you for a job well done," Joyce said.

Joyce was in hot water last year after the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spend large amounts of money on their new building, including large signs and hair straighteners.

NZTE chief executive Peter Chrisp also believed the gift was appropriate.

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"Saying thank you and recognising effort is a simple way of motivating people," Chrisp told ONE News.

 - Stuff

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