An axed Ngongotahā-based trial of Bluetooth contact tracing cards cost the Government close to $1 million.
The total cost of the trial, which was only part of the Contact Tracing Technologies Prototype Research Programme, was $901,000.
This information was revealed to the Rotorua Daily Post in response to an Official Information Act request made to the Ministry of Health.
More than 1100 Ngongotahā residents aged over 19 volunteered for the week-long trial in November last year.
In the ministry's response to the Rotorua Daily Post's Official Information Act Request, deputy director-general data and digital Gaynor Bradfield said the Ngongotahā trial was $59,900 over budget.
"The total cost ... was $0.901m, which includes contractor costs. No internal ministry costs were factored into any of the funding.
"The cost per card to the programme was $18.50 per unit. This amount included the cost of testing, preparation, lanyards, clips and shipping.
"More participants than expected led to a very small percentage increase in the overall cost of the trial, approximately $10,000."
Bradfield's response also stated that without a high level of participation, the efficacy of the card became limited.
The Rotorua Daily Post's information request also asked the ministry to provide documents regarding the budget and costs for the card trial. This part of the request was denied on the grounds that doing so "would require substantial collation and research".
The trial was fully endorsed by the Te Arawa Covid Response hub.
Hub kaumātua Monty Morrison said while he didn't have any knowledge of the project's budget he was not surprised by the cost.
"We entered into the trial in good faith. We didn't know what the outcome would be."
Morrison said he considered the money "well spent" and that the benefits of the trial far outweigh the cost.
"The Ministry of Health came away with insights on how to best engage with vulnerable communities. Te Arawa gained insight into how to support and engage with the ministry's systems."
Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced in August that the Bluetooth contact tracing cards trialled in Rotorua last year would not be rolled out nationally.
When the announcement to axe the cards was made, Ministry of Health deputy director-general Shayne Hunter said privacy issues and the cost of rolling out the card to everyone in the country were factors in the decision.
Speaking at the August community hui, Hunter said the cards would not be effective unless either everyone wore one or they could communicate with other devices such as mobile phones.
"The biggest issue for us is the card itself can't talk to another device."
A report prepared to update Health Minister Chris Hipkins on the Bluetooth card trial stated: "National deployment of the card would be costly, with minimal benefits."