Defence Force spends $15k on Real Housewife Angela Stone

7:11 am on 21 December 2016

The New Zealand Defence Force has spent tens of thousands of dollars on stylists to give young people grooming and presentation tips for job interviews, including hiring Real Housewife of Auckland Angela Stone.

Angela Stone appears in an advertisement from the Get Into It Christchurch campaign aimed at supporting local businesses.

Angela Stone appears in an advertisement from the Get Into It Christchurch campaign aimed at supporting local businesses. Photo: YouTube / GetIntoItChCh

The Defence Force runs a six-week bootcamp on behalf of the Ministry of Social Development to help young people find a job, and the spend on stylists was part of that.

Since 2008 the Defence Force has hired Ms Stone - a stylist, author, empowerment professional and now reality television star - to provide grooming and presentation tips at a rate of $304 for about a 40 minute session.

She has conducted 49 sessions and been paid a total $14,905 for them.

The six-week Limited Service Volunteer programme costs about $6000 per attendee and takes 18 to 24 year olds through different types of training, including driving, numeracy and literacy.

Ms Stone said people needed to know how to dress appropriately and know what was expected of them, and the sessions could be very rewarding and confronting.

"It's competitive out there and so I'm in the empowerment business and I show these young men and young women how to make the most of themselves," she said.

Defence Force director of reserve forces and youth development Colonel James Kaio said the course aimed to build the attendees' confidence and help them get into work.

He said the people who went on the course were often more street-wise than office-wise, and the stylists gave them help with basic things like personal grooming standards and how to present themselves.

"If they're going into an interview with a cap on backwards, with dirty sweatpants and a holey shirt, that is not the image that a future employer would want of their employee."

On average, about 1500 people did the course each year, and it had a 70 percent employment placement rate with most ending up in physical jobs like labouring.

The course is run out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Ms Stone covers the Christchurch-based style tips, and the Defence Force has other stylists in Wellington and Auckland who also get paid about the same as she does.

Colonel Kaio believed it was a good use of taxpayer money and said Ms Stone has a high approval rate.

"Since 2008 she's been providing what the course needs. After every course they do a validation, for every module we ask the students how each module went and then we ask our staff and obviously for her and her delivery of her sessions they've been hitting the right mark."

RNZ understands many of the people who contributed their time as mentors did so for free, although the Defence Force said all contractors were paid.

Ms Stone said that while she does many things for charity, some for free, others were not.

She said she was a professional, and conducting a session could take up half a day when travel to Burnham Military Camp is factored in.

"This is what I do, this is my job, I'm in the makeover business."

Ms Stone said she kept being asked to come back, so the proof was in the pudding.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs