AM hosts react to Mt Messenger bypass workers getting free pies, costing taxpayers $50,000

AM hosts are on the fence about whether Waka Kotahi's 'Pieday Friday' event for workers on the Mt Messenger bypass project is good value for money. 

Opponents of the Mt Messenger bypass project in Taranaki, run by Waka Kotahi, say the staff event – also known as "Whānau Friday" - could cost up to $500,000 over the life of the project.   

But Waka Kotahi said it would cost $50,000 and was good for morale.   

The $280 million Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass is a new 6km route on State Highway 3 about 50km north of New Plymouth. Waka Kotahi said it will improve safety, be more resilient and save time.  

The staff event was raised on AM on Wednesday morning with co-host Melissa Chan-Green saying her initial reaction was "Should Waka Kotahi be spending that money?"   

But she added she could see the upside in it.   

"But then I think if they're saying it's good for morale if we're going to keep workers, is that more important at the end of the day than a bit of money that's spent on them?" she said.  

But fellow co-host Ryan Bridge hit back saying is a "pie going to stop you quitting your job?"   

"Maybe it's the camaraderie, when everyone comes around and gets their pies and everybody hangs out together, potentially," Bridge suggested.   

Chan-Green also pointed out the project is in a rural area so it's probably hard for staff to find somewhere to buy lunch.   

After encouraging viewers to send in their feedback, it quickly became clear people were divided on the idea.    

"When we do 13-hour shifts making the roads safe, painting them and the crew performs well, I buy them a feed and I get reimbursed by management. At that time of night, like 3am, it's usually pies and energy drinks," one viewer named Luke wrote in. But another, called Sue, added: "No, spend the money on filling potholes, not their stomachs".  

Another, called Mark, wrote in saying: "I have no problems with 'Pieday Friday' due to the location of the work but Watercare on the other hand, is indicative of wasteful spending in council-owned entities".  

Watch the full video above.