Labour has slammed the spending of more than half a million dollars on a programme that uses colours to try and change thinking within the Ministry of Social Development.
"The Government is never slow to call everyone else on wasteful spending - tightening others' belts is a favourite pastime," said Labour's state services spokesman Kris Faafoi.
"Yet here we have a department, whose clients are queuing at food banks, squandering taxpayer cash on a programme that has all the hallmarks of mumbo-jumbo."
The consulting firm Human Synergistics has been hired to implement a programme at the ministry called Building Blue.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
The colour blue is used to illustrate desirable behaviour such as achievement and self-actualisation, whereas red and green represent negative behaviours like dependence, Stuff.co.nz reported.
About $320,000 was spent on the project in 2013/14, with another $220,000 budgeted for 2014/15.
"Managers are being asked to reflect on their behavioural style by 'colouring' their thinking blue," Mr Faafoi said.
"The first step towards improving staff morale and changing workplace culture is to ensure staff know they are trusted and valued. That takes leadership, not misuse of public money."
In February, MSD defended its spending after a grilling by MPs at Parliament.
Labour MPs on the Social Services Committee asked whether the ministry was being careful enough with its budget given it worked with the poorest people in the country.
They cited several areas where bills had increased in the last financial year, including on advertising campaigns, contractors, and international trips.