Managers of the Southern District Health Board have confirmed a senior doctor has been paid a salary of up to $830,000 a year.
The revelation came during a yearly financial review of the DHB by Parliament's health select committee on Wednesday.
Labour Party health spokesperson Maryan Street told board representatives the figure is extraordinary and asked for an explanation.
The DHB's new chief executive confirmed that an unnamed specialist was paid between $820,000 and $830,000 for doing more than the normal contracted hours in an area lacking staff.
Carole Heatly said the board is trying to recruit more staff to spread the workload.
The DHB also told MPs it is hoping to receive $24 million worth of deficit support in the next three years, but cannot say when it will break even.
DHB managers assured MPs that cutting costs and trying to live within their means would not reduce quality or access to services.