Wristbands handed out by Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt cost ratepayers $3256, an Official Information Act (OIA) response obtained by the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union confirmed.
More than 2100 of the wristbands purchased by the Invercargill City Council, which include the slogan 'I met Mayor Tim', have been purchased since the 2016 local election.
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The union is questioning the purpose of the wristbands, other than "to bloat the mayor's ego".
"This is made worse by the timing of handing out propaganda so close to an election," union researcher Luke Redward said.
"Ratepayers expect that their money is spent on core services, not to tickle the vanity of local politicians."
An Invercargill City Council spokesperson told Newshub it was not appropriate for comment to be made on the matter, due to it being the "pre-election period".
The wristbands were distributed at civic functions as opposed to being used for a campaign, a spokesperson for Shadbolt said in a statement to Stuff.
Meanwhile, Facebook users had mixed opinions on the wristbands. One called them "bloody shameful".
"Disgraceful waste of money shame on Shadbolt."
Others appeared fond of the wristbands, asking if they could acquire one.
"Go Tim," one wrote. "You've done great things for Invercargill, best of luck for the election."