A massive police operation that closed down an organised crime gang has left taxpayers with a $700,000 bill - one of the biggest - for legal aid.
And that figure could climb, the Legal Services Agency that administers the aid said.
This is because it has not yet processed all the claims arising from Operation Rhino in Christchurch.
The operation involved up to 40 police and took three years, ending last month with sentencing of the organisers.
Prison time totalling 13 years and nine months was handed down to eight people after police shut down the burglary and receiving ring that was targeting mainly homes under construction around Christchurch.
The bill puts Operation Rhino up with some of the most expensive criminal cases in New Zealand history.
The Scott Watson murder trial is thought to be the most expensive criminal legal aid case, at about $800,000.
The legal aid bill for Algerian asylum seeker Ahmed Zaoui's challenge to his security-risk certificate has been estimated at $3 million.
The agency's acting grants manager Margaret Pearson said the legal aid bill for Operation Rhino included depositions, an initial trial that was halted part-way through, and subsequent trials.
The $707,615.25 spent included lawyers' fees, expert witnesses and forensic tests.
That amount is about twice as much as the agency has spent on the David Bain case since 2001, including $260,000 for his Privy Council appeal.