Kiwi taxpayers forked out more than $26,000 for an official lunch for the Premier of China.

His Excellency Mr Wen Jiabao is among several dozen foreign dignitaries to have dined on the Government's tab since the start of 2004.

All up, the Government has spent just under $250,000 since 2004 on official functions hosted by the Prime Minister or a Cabinet minister, hosting a total of 3379 guests - according to information obtained by the Herald On Sunday under the Official Information Act.

Mr Wen came to New Zealand in April this year, accompanied by three Cabinet ministers and more than 200 officials, journalists and security personnel.

His banquet lunch in the Beehive was the most expensive state function hosted by the Government in the past two-and-a-half years.

After the lunch, attended by 256 guests, the Premier that night enjoyed an official dinner at the Prime Minister's Wellington residence, which cost $3700 for 24 guests.

As well as international royalty and politicians, a few Kiwi sporting luminaries made the cut for top-level official functions. Golfer Michael Campbell, the New Zealand Olympic team and the World Champs-winning men's softball team had parties thrown in their honour.

The priciest parties per head were dinners for Czech foreign minister Cyril Svoboda, where the bill for each of the 14 guests came to $190, and European Commission agriculture and rural development chief Mariann Fischer Boel, at $183 a guest.

The biggest bash - attended by 400 people - was a reception for British Prime Minister Tony Blair in March that cost $23,779.

Asian countries featured heavily on the guest list, with three visits from China, two from Thailand, and one each from Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Scandinavian nations - Finland, Norway and Sweden - made a strong showing, as did Oceanic countries - Australia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia.

Also represented were Brazil, Slovenia, Turkey, Iran, France, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lithuania, Saudi Arabia, the European Union, and the United Nations.