Wairoa District Council is one of the first councils to pay its staff living wage - despite not having the stamp of approval as Wellington does.

From the cleaners to the chief executive, the capital's council workers are guaranteed a minimum of $20.55 an hour, after Wellington City became the first accredited living wage council in the country.

Wairoa mayor Craig Little said staff need to be paid what they are worth.

"Staff probably don't get appreciated by a lot of people out in the public, and I think they need to be appreciated by what they do and at least pay them the living wage."


He said at this point Wairoa was not looking at accreditation.

"We'd have to look into it to see what advantages there are for accreditation."

He said they had not received any backlash from ratepayers, and there could be no argument against paying people what they are worth.

"You pay people what they should be paid, there can be no argument against that whatsoever."

Wairoa Council CEO Steven May said the policy extended to all permanent staff who the council had immediate control over, but not those indirectly through the council, for example contracted staff.

National convener for Living Wage Movement Aotearoa New Zealand, Annie Newman, said accredited employers had to ensure all contracted staff were paid a living wage, not just those directly employed by the company.

"One of problems that we find is that people say they are paying the living wage, but they have contracted out a lot of services," Newman said.

"Some of the lowest paid employees in the country are employed by contractors.

"It's very important that we protect the lowest paid workers, who are in poverty, that they are part of this."


Councils in Hawke's Bay are undertaking a region wide review looking at the implications of the living wage.

Napier City Councils chief executive Wayne Jack said they are working through the review as quickly as possible.

"Until we have the data on that we can't make any comment as to what the implications are, but we are working through this as quickly as we can."

A spokesperson for Hastings District Council says they welcome the review.

Currently, 11 per cent of HDC's permanent part-time and fulltime staff are paid less than the living wage.

Chief executive at Tararua District Council, Blair King, said a district like Tararua was more affordable than a main centre, therefore there were questions about the necessity of the living wage.

He said the council would consider it if staff raised the issue, however at this point they were not working towards becoming an accredited living wage employer.

There are 110 accredited living wage employers in New Zealand, with Bistronomy in Napier the only one in Hawke's Bay.