The Government has paid $11.4 million for a swanky apartment close to the United Nations in New York for New Zealand's ambassador to the UN which Labour has criticised as evidence of a culture of extravagance.
The 244sq m apartment is in the 44-floor Zeckendorf tower at 50 UN Plaza, just across the road from the UN.News of the Government purchase appeared to be by way of a correction on an Australian website when it wrongly reported that the apartment had been bought by the Queen because of the wording in the sale and purchase agreement.
The apartment has three bedrooms and three bathrooms and overlooks the East River.
The ambassador, formally known as the Permanent Representative, is career diplomat Gerard van Bohemen, who will sit in the chair of the UN Security Council next week when New Zealand takes over the presidency of the Security Council for a month.
Former ambassador Jim McLay and his wife Marcy lived in an apartment overlooking the East River.
Labour's foreign affairs spokesman, David Shearer, said the price was extravagant in anyone's language.
"Foreign Minister Murray McCully is completely out of touch with the lives of real people."
He said the spending had come to light two years after Mr McCully had gutted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to save money.
"He is now splashing those savings on a flash pad for our man in New York."
Mr McCully's office referred inquiries to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The ministry said the price of the new apartment would be offset by the sale of the old one.
"The new property is intended to be a working space as well as a residence. They layout will be used for diplomatic meetings and functions," a spokesman said in a statement.
"The higher ongoing maintenance costs and the distance from the UN building means the older residence was determined as no longer fit for purpose."
MFAT's independent advisors - the overseas property advisory panel - had endorsed the purchase as the preferred option.
The statement said the ministry owned 92 offshore properties and leased 217.
Its capital budget for the 2015 - 16 year is $76.52 million.
The apartment block was designed by British architect Lord Norman Foster.
The cheapest apartment is reportedly priced at $3.6 million and the most expensive being the three storied penthouse at $145 million.
Other dwellers in the block are reported to be Christina Hendricks (Joan from Madmen) and Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen and her husband, US gridiron start Tom Brady.
New York pad
paid for an apartment for NZ's ambassador to the UN
• 3 bedrooms and three bathrooms and overlooks the East River.
• 244 square metres and on the 44-floor Zeckendorf tower at 50 UN Plaza
• $3.6m is the cheapest in the building and the most expensive is $145 million.