'Completely inappropriate': Stats NZ under fire for 'oranges' Facebook post

A Facebook post by Stats NZ has been described as "completely inappropriate" by the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union, who says the national statistics agency should be steering "clear of culture wars".

Stats NZ on Tuesday, the eve of the American election, posted a cartoon image of an orange that appeared to resemble incumbent US President Donald Trump. The image was accompanied with some statistics about fruit exports.

Trump is known for his distinctly orange facial colourations, believed to be the result of using makeup and tanning products.

But the Taxpayers' Union, a right-wing lobby group, re-shared Stats NZ's post saying it was tasteless. Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke accused the agency of being ill-disciplined.

"If a Government department wants to use humour on social media that's fine, but they should steer clear of the culture wars and pandering to what they think is politically fashionable," he told Newshub.

But Stats NZ is defending the post as "light-hearted".

"It has been seen by many thousands of people today and almost all the online reactions were positive," a Stats NZ spokesman said.

He told Newshub the agency aims to take a "cheery approach" on social media.

On Facebook, the photo had attracted 514 reactions as of Wednesday afternoon - 496 of which were positive.

"The Prime Minister wouldn't use the American election as fodder for jokes on social media, but it seems the bureaucrats at Stats NZ have less discipline," said Houlbrooke.

According to the Stats NZ spokesman, the social media post was aimed at "letting people know we have detailed imports and exports data".

"This was intended to be a light-hearted post and almost everyone understood it."