District Health Board chairs and members have spent almost $1 million on travel and training in the past three years.

As part of an investigation into the cost of DHB spending, the Weekend Herald has spent months sourcing documents and analysing figures to find out how much taxpayer money is being spent.

When combined, the boards, CEOs and executives have spent $5.2m during the past three financial years from July 2014 to June 2017.

That figure is on top of the $66 million the group, comprising 444 people across the country's 20 health boards, have been paid.


The investigation has raised questions about the value for money taxpayers get when DHB staff and boards travel to international destinations in the name of health, and renewed calls to slash the number of DHBs running the public health system.

The latest figures, released under the Official Information Act, showed 22 board chairs and four commissioners - installed at Southern DHB after the board was sacked - have spent $425,408 in the three years, for about 30 days of work each year.

The board members, 10 on each board except Southern, have collectively spent $564,764, taking the total to $990,172. Some DHBs did not provide all expenses.

The expenses include international and domestic flights, meals, accommodation, taxi fares, parking costs, mileage, conference registration, professional development, memberships including to Air New Zealand's Koru Club, phones and gifts.

The higher spenders were board members or chairs who travelled overseas including former Counties Manukau chair Dr Lee Mathias who attended a New Zealand Trade and Enterprise event between Turkey and New Zealand in May 2015.

The induction for new board members after the latest local government elections in late 2016 also cost thousands in domestic flights to Wellington.

Other high costs were incurred in domestic travel when board chairs or deputies lived outside the region or members had to fly to other cities in New Zealand for meetings.