Taxpayers are footing the bill for an incident with a model sheep at the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment's Christmas party last year.

According to reports on TVNZ, the two toy sheep cost $170 to hire, with the bill rising to $745 after an as-yet-unknown incident.

The information came from an Official Information Act request by Labour's senior research advisor, Rob Carr which asked for details on "expenditure by the Ministry since 1 July 2014 on inflatable or model animals."

According to the document, two model sheep were hired and later repaired for a total cost of $670.


The report states that the expenditure relates to MBIE's head office Christmas party on 12 December 2014:

"The theme of the event was 'Christmas around the World' with different zones at the event modeled accordingly and including a 'Kiwiana' theme."

Other purchases for the event included an "inflatable Santa with two reindeer" and a "turtle swim ring."

Labour's economic development spokesman, David Clark, said the incident and the resulting cost to the tax-payer was "sheer nonsense".

"Taxpayers are being fleeced for inappropriate schoolboy antics at a government department".

Bill English, as acting Prime Minister, stated that it is "good for the kids" to keep morale up at MBIE.

MBIE chief financial officer Iain Cossar said he wasn't in attendance at the party:

"I don't know what happened to the sheep. I'm not happy about what happened to the sheep but something occurred during the course of the evening and we've had to repair them."

This is the latest of a number of recent spending gaffes by MBIE, including hair straighteners, sun decks, a TV screen, and $800,000 on media monitoring.