Trump inauguration party at NZ Embassy cost $80k
A party at the New Zealand Embassy in Washington to celebrate the inauguration of Donald Trump cost the taxpayer more than $80,000.
Hundreds attended the fancy affair on January 17 including actors, military, business and government figures hosted by Ambassador Tim Groser.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) revealed in an Official Information Act request by Fairfax Media that US$58,247.36 (NZ$81,000) in putting on the soirée which is said was important in advancing the country's interests in the US.
An MFAT spokesperson said the embassy had hosted inauguration parties before "without consideration of US domestic politics".
"The event was considered as a constituency building activity to position New Zealand's interests effectively with the new US Administration and Congress."
Funds for the party came from MFAT's baseline budget and met standard approval criteria.
The Taxpayers Union called the party "another display of extravagance from MFAT using the taxpayers' wallet".
"The fact that the attendees to the party had little professional association to trade or diplomacy shows that it was nothing more than a taxpayer-funded bash for friends of MFAT's DC-based diplomats," executive director Jordan Williams says.
Mr Groser was reported to be overjoyed with the guest list which included Mr Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump supporter Jon Voight.
In a report in the Washingtonian at the time, a number of anecdotal stories from a number of inauguration parties were presented including from the New Zealand party - where the "party circuit began for many".
"Ambassador Tim Groser made no attempt to hide his elation about the evening's guest list," the report reads.
It says despite the former trade minister's heavy involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and his promotion of policies in direct opposition to Mr Trumps, what Mr Groser really wanted now was access.
"Getting access to Trump will be everybody's ambition," Mr Groser reportedly said.
"We have got off to a flying start."
He also allegedly told a story about how he got Mr Trump's cellphone number and hailed his election as the end of "PC" culture.
At the time, Newshub contacted the Embassy to confirm this sequence of events. They never responded.