The cost of the Government's Criminal Justice Summit has inflated to over $1.6 million and numbers reveal nearly $1m was spent on consultants alone.

Justice Minister Andrew Little originally planned for the two-day summit to cost $700,000 but figures from last month's event highlight a major blowout.

The breakdown of costs from the summit show the final bill included $970,660 on consultants, $26,592 on MCs, $65,800 on catering and $101,528 on international speakers. The total was $1.625 million.

Little said today the cost of the summit was more than he had expected and that if another similar conference was held again he would expect it to be lower.

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"I accept there is some complexity in putting together an exercise like this. As I say, it was more than I had expected and I have asked the ministry to review and reconsider in the event that we do anything like this again I wouldn't expect it to cost this much," Little told the Herald.

On the $26,592 for MCs Alison Mau and Marcus Akuhata-Brown, Little said it was important to have good people who could keep the dialogue going.

"I think they did an outstanding job. There were, as we expected there would be, moments of tension … and I think they were both, at the time they were doing the facilitating and MCing, they both managed that well and avoided what could have been a much more difficult situation. That reflected on their skills."

Little wrote to the Justice Secretary Andrew Bridgeman when he saw, part-way through the planning process, the number of contractors and consultants involved, to make sure it kept costs under control.

"I've asked them to review the issue of the expenditure of money and they've yet to come back to me about what their systems were in place to manage and control cost."

The letter said all significant expenditure decisions must be referred to the minister's office prior to being incurred.

National's justice spokesperson Mark Mitchell said the summit was a "talkfest that had no clear objectives and has shown no outcomes.

"The cost would be easier for taxpayers to swallow if they were getting value for money," he said.

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Between 600 and 700 people within the justice sector attended the Porirua event which was held to look into ways to turn around New Zealand's high reoffending rate and rising prison population.