New Te Papa museum chief executive Michael Houlihan has had his Audi shipped from England at taxpayers' expense.

Houlihan said it was personal business and would not say why he brought the 2009 Audi A3 coupe halfway around the world as part of his publicly funded relocation expenses.

But a Giltrap Audi sales consultant said he could buy the same car in Auckland for $35,000 and the cost was not worth it.

An A3's list price starts at $47,400.


He estimated the cost of bringing a car from Britain was up to $5000, but Houlihan's expenses reveal he claimed $1383 to ship the car and other personal items.

It cost another $51.75 to have the car moved from the Wellington dock to vehicle inspection in Petone.

Houlihan has also clocked up hundreds of taxpayer dollars on "coffee meetings" in the first half of last year and this year.

He also spent $141 last year on a dinner with former Te Papa chair, John Judge, at a top Wellington restaurant to continue an "existing relationship".

Many of the coffee meetings were in Te Papa's own cafe or at Karaka Cafe on the Wellington waterfront near Te Papa.

He said all the expenses were "above board".