Auckland's council-owned transport agency says a $40,000 staff party at the weekend was simply part of being a good employer.
The event at the waterfront Cloud venue attracted 1700 staff and their families, at a time when the agency is seeking an $18 million funding top-up from the council.
A self-styled ratepayer watchdog, Affordable Auckland, says the spending is completely inappropriate.
Auckland Transport chief executive David Warburton says it was the first time in the organisation's three-year life that all its staff could assemble in one place.
He said the party cost less than was spent last year on Christmas functions held by separate agency divisions.