Hamilton mayor Julie Hardaker says she chose her $1257 desk chair on the advice of subordinates and on the grounds of comfort - and not price.

The Herald yesterday reported that Ms Hardaker had spent almost $92,000 in a year on running her office, with the new chair, pens, flowers and a Koru Club membership among the expenses.

While she could not be reached last night, she said earlier that she simply took advice from staff to buy a chair which fitted her.

Ms Hardaker, who entered local government promising a prudent approach to council spending, said she spent hours behind her desk.


The mayor said she got the new chair because she could not sit on the old one properly as it was designed for a man.

"The previous mayors for the last 10 years had been men. I couldn't sit properly in the chair that was there and because I work exorbitantly long hours the suggestion from the democratic support service manager was that I get a chair I could sit in properly so I took that advice."

She tested a number of chairs supplied to her by the council's democratic support services team and made her selection on comfort, not price. She said staff looked at the costs.

One furniture manufacturer spoken to by the Herald said that gender-specific chairs were rare, and more than $1000 was a lot to spend.

John Dawson, the owner of Dawell Furniture Company, which manufactures office furniture including 90 styles of office chairs, said he would expect a chair in the $1000 price range to be from from an "upmarket Italian or European manufacturer".

"If you are looking at a company like OfficeMax, Corporate Express, The Warehouse Stationery, a decent chair will start at about about $160 up to about $1000 for a chair. People certainly sell chairs for more than $1000 but they don't sell a hell of a lot of them."

About $250 would buy a good comfortable corporate chair which was ergonomic and tested by the Australasian Furnishing Research and Development Institute to ensure sturdiness.

Mr Dawson said there were no chairs specifically designed for genders but the biggest problem people had with chairs was if they were too big for them. He said trimmer body sizes weighing about 60kg - likely to apply to Ms Hardaker's slight build - had to ensure their arms were positioned by their sides and not sticking out if they had armrests.


"Without being crude, if your bum will fit on the chair you are generally okay."

New Zealand Association of Occupational Therapists president Rita Robinson said a good office chair was important and the one-size-fits-all approach did not always work.

"When you're body is in correct alignment it uses less effort and energy. So if you have a good chair it gives you a good stable base in that your feet are supported and the depth of your chair accommodates you."

Last year the city council spent $26,000 on 100 new chairs including 26 leather high-back boardroom chairs for councillors, the mayor and senior managers mainly for the chamber as well as 74 chairs for the public seating area and in the committee room.

City councillors Angela O'Leary and Ewan Wilson this week challenged what they felt was a "gold-plated" purchase.

Mr Wilson said he would be happy with a "Warehouse Stationery special".

However councillor Roger Hennebry said the mayor worked extremely long hours and he understood first-hand how bad chairs could cause back problems.

The mayor declined a request for a photograph of her and the chair and the council was yesterday unable to provide the make and model of the chair before deadline.