by Jordan Williams

$95,450 up in smoke for brand tweak  

If ever you needed an example of the good life contracting for the Government, our research team have uncovered a doozy. Tatou NZ — a well-connected marketing agency — was paid $95,450 to “rebrand” the Government’s “2025 Smokefree Action Plan”.

We asked what the Government received for nearly nine years of income tax for the average worker. All officials could point to was a few pages of logos and instructions on how to use it. This isn’t a new government agency: it’s for what officials call a ‘plan’. And taxpayers have paid for branding already!


Tatou Smokefree

An invoice dated 21 February 2022 from Tatou NZ Ltd breaks down the costs as:

  • Discovery: Te Wāhanga Whakapapa – we learn everything we can about you – how you work, who you work with, your goals; (You have done a lot of the work here already – work that we will build upon) and your audience – who they are, what they need. – $13,750
  • Define: Te Wāhanga Tautuhi – We distill what we learned and articulate succinctly the brand fundamentals – which will build on the work you have already done. Objectives, vision, mission, and how you will achieve them. This will include your brand values and personality. Then, we look at what that means for your audience. We will share, and work with you to achieve the final expression. – $20,000
  • Develop: Te Wāhanga Whakarite – We write a creative / design brief. Once approved our team will conceptualise what your brand might look like, and how it might sound. We’ll share concepts, listen to your feedback and refine. Co-design. Test. Includes feedback process and making changes. – $30,000
  • Deliver: Te Wāhanga Mahi – The creation of the brand assets, and implementation. Includes feedback process and making changes. – $19,250

Nice work if you can get it!

Breakfast room service for one?


Your humble Taxpayers’ Union continues to do what the media are not and regularly audits what Minsters and Beehive officials are spending your money on.

One of our student interns has dug out a mysterious “breakfast” at Boston Harbor Hotel belonging to someone who works for Minister of Trade, Damien O’Connor. While on a recent trip with the Minister, the staffer spent $100 (60USD) on a hotel breakfast.

But here’s the thing – based on the menu (available online) – it appears the staffer was either one very hungry official, or our generous mandarin was ordering for two.

We asked the Minister’s office who the other breakfast was for – but the Office refused to provide the information to protect the an official “from improper pressure or harassment” (section 9(g)(ii) of the Official Information Act allows for this as a reason for refusal to release official information). I’ve only seen this section used one other time since 2013.

We hear around the traps (but are unable to confirm) that our mysterious official was entertaining a new found friend on tour. Of course, no one objects to an overseas romance, but putting a Tinder date’s breakfast on the taxpayer is rather raunchy.

Breakfast for One?

Taxpayer Talk with Peter Williams: Professor James Allan + analysis of latest poll 🎙️🎧

Peter Williams

In the wake of the Queen’s passing, the latest edition of Taxpayer Talk focuses on the Monarchy and our constitution. Peter Williams interviews Canadian-born, Australian-domiciled law Professor James Allan who reflects on why the Commonwealth Monarchy is the most successful anywhere and why having a queen or king on the other side of the world as our Head of State is still the best system for New Zealand, and other Commonwealth realms.

David and I join Peter too to reflect on the political week and discuss the results of the Taxpayers’ Union-Curia poll. Is luck finally running out for the government? 

You can listen to the episode online here, or via Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PodcastsiHeart Radio and where all good podcast are sold.