Christopher Luxon has seven staffers working on social media content - partly paid for by taxpayer

After sitting down with a Singaporean social media influencer, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon was unable to say how much taxpayer money is spent on his social team.

But Newshub can reveal there are seven full-time staff working on social media for National - partly paid for by the taxpayer.

Luxon shared breakfast with influencer Aiken Chia and 156,000 Instagram followers to talk Singaporean food and to promote New Zealand, telling Chia: "We've got incredible mountains, incredible rivers, incredible bush."

It was a mutually beneficial content creation stop. The Prime Minister - the self-proclaimed 'TikTok King' - also got video and pictures for his social media.

Luxon says he doesn't take it too seriously.

"I have to be honest, I question some of the things I do. But look, I'm out there, giving it a go. Some stuff will work, some stuff won't. But isn't it fantastic that I'm doing that?"

But in reality he has a whole team dedicated to it - though he couldn't say how many.

"I couldn't tell you but it's not heaps," Luxon said.

Luxon and influencer Aiken Chia.
Luxon and influencer Aiken Chia. Photo credit: Newshub

His office later clarified there are seven full-time staff who work on social media - four who support National's 49 MPs with digital communication and three who also work on things like advertising and event planning.

Seven is more staff than most news organisations have in their dedicated political teams.

"I can tell you we've got a very small team and they're very efficient at what they do."

The very first thing Luxon did after being sworn in as Prime Minister was to spend 30 minutes filming social media content. 

Luxon said he didn't spend "a lot of time" filming content.

"I tell you I spend more time preparing and thinking about the questions that [Newshub Political Editor] Jenna Lynch asks me rather than actually thinking about how I can actually communicate with people across New Zealand. It's pretty intuitive, pretty natural."

Luxon faces questioning.
Luxon faces questioning. Photo credit: Newshub

The Government is currently taking aim at what they call spin doctors in the public sector but Luxon couldn't say whether his own social team was smaller than the previous administration's.

His office later confirmed some taxpayer money is used to pay for it.

"I'd just say to you we've got a very good social media programme. It's very important. I can talk directly to the New Zealand people as well as talking through you guys and the traditional media channels as well," Luxon said.

In a shrinking media environment politicians are increasingly turning to their own channels - speaking directly to voters - and Luxon said he still sees democratic value in traditional media.

"It's a sort of an and and and. You're using all the channels available to get the messages out to the people."