Block of butter listed on Trade Me in protest of Fonterra CEO's pay packet
A historian has shown her disgust at Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings' multi-million dollar pay packet by auctioning off a block of butter.
The Trade Me auction, set up by Palmerston North woman Dr Janine Cook, asks people to bid on the "quality art work", which has a gold wrapper that "evokes the timeless theme of human greed and the transformation of a country where the basics are no longer accessible to all".
The proceeds will be donated to either a Fonterra worker "who lacks job security", a farmer struggling to be a "farm cleaner", a "townie who cannot afford to buy butter", or Spierings.
On Thursday morning, the butter was going for $51 – well over the $6.29 Cook paid for it.
It was revealed in September Spierings' pay package was worth $8.3 million, while Fonterra's profit was down 11 per cent.
Cook, who has a PhD in New Zealand history, said she was outraged when she heard the news.
"It is 166 times the average New Zealand salary."
Hundreds of staff had been laid off from the dairy co-operative in recent years and farmers were struggling to fund environmental improvements, she said.
"Meanwhile, Fonterra is spending millions on a television campaign that portrays them as clean and green.
"I think it is not in the spirit of the co-operative as it was intended to be."
Cook said she used the block of butter because it was common, but it was being priced out of people's hands.
"It is a piece of Kiwiana, but not everybody can afford it."
If the buyer wanted the proceeds donated to Spierings, Cook planned to try and figure out a way to get the money to him.
"I might ask Theo if he can give me a bus fare so I can go give it to him," she said.
The butter was in the fridge while the auction ran. The auction ends on Sunday night.
Fonterra has been approached for comment.