Mark Mitchell – Flights of fancy?!





Former Defence Minister; failed National Party leader aspirant;  one-time mercenary-for-hire, and current (for the moment) National defence spokesman, Mark Mitchell, may have opened a 44-gallon drum-of-worms with his assertion that Coalition Defence Minister, Ron Mark, has been “using the Air Force as a personal taxi service“.

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Mitchell kept repeating a common meme;

“This is an incredibly inappropriate use of Defence resources, and I am sure the public would be interested to know why the Minister is opting to use already stretched Defence assets rather than the Ministerial Crown Cars that are available to him.”


“Mr Mark has even used an NH90 to travel from Masterton to Waiouru and back in the same day – a three hour trip each way by car.

Why did he not save the taxpayer the cost and the NZDF the time and use a much cheaper Crown car instead? It’s happening so regularly locals are asking questions about it.”

Ron Mark refuted Mitchell’s undocumented claims, stating;

“Each of the flights was taken to an official engagement.


“I wish to emphasise that none of these flights was for personal use. Please note that on a number of these flights I have been accompanied by NZDF officials, MPs from other parties, and/or media representatives. If at any point the Defence Force advises me that such travel is inappropriate or outside policy then I would naturally comply.”

Minister Ron Mark replied;

“What I will do is run a benchmark across all use of military aircraft over the last 10 years, and I’m already receiving messages that actually there’s some interesting stuff in there.

Let’s put it out in the media, and let’s hope Mr Mitchell isn’t embarrassed.”

Ron mark was correct. There appears to be solid evidence that ministers from the previous National-led government  have indeed used Air Force helicopters as their own private taxi service.

In May 2013, TV3 reported;

The Prime Minister, his MPs and ministers – including the leaders of ACT and United Future – have travelled to Tolaga Bay for the tangi of Parekura Horomia.


Today was the final day of the tangi – John Key flew in on one of the Defence Force’s new $100 million helicopters, with ministers in tow.

A screenshot image showed one of Key’s ministers – former ACT-leader John Banks – alighting from said $100 million helicopter;



The same helicopter contained former Dear Leader John Key and “his MPs and ministers – including the leaders of ACT and United Future”.

Fairfax media reported at the time;

Key arrived by helicopter at the Tolaga Bay Area School and was welcomed onto Hauiti Marae with 15 Government MPs and the Speaker of the house David Carter.

National MPs seem to be acutely susceptible to shooting themselves in their own foot (in Mitchell’s case, as an ex-mercenary, that may be the literal truth).

Simon Bridges, Michael WoodhouseBill English, Steven Joyce, Judith Collins, and others, have all attempted to fling mud at Coalition ministers – only to have the fan blow it straight back into their own faces.

National’s members of parliament  have apparently forgotten a simple, salient fact: after nine years in government they each have plenty of skeletons in their own closets. Every time they point an accusatory finger at a Coalition minister – those same National MPs will be held to account for their own shortcomings, mistakes, abuses of ministerial power, and downright incompetance.

As I pointed out in November last year;

It may be the National Opposition that is held to account.

Meanwhile, we award National MP Mark Mitchell with this dubious distinction:


Well done, champ. Hope the bullet-hole in your foot heels soon.





Fairfax media:  Dear Mark Mitchell – New Zealand deserves answers, not insults, on war for profit

Mediaworks:  Ron Mark refutes claims he made personal use of military aircraft

NewstalkZB:  Defence Minister Ron Mark accused of using the Air Force as taxi service

TVNZ:  Defence Minister Ron Mark defends using military aircraft to get to and from home

Mediaworks: PM arrives on eve of funeral

Fairfax media:  Thousands gather for Horomia’s tangi


Mediaworks: Pansy Wong’s political future in jeopardy

Other Blogs

My Thinks:  Severe and extreme outrage expressed over Ron Mark’s use of a helicopter

The Daily Blog:  National’s Anti-Aircraft Fire At Ron Mark Proves To Be Blanks

Previous related blogposts

“Fool me once”…

11 May: End of the Week Bouquets, Brickbats, & Epic Fails

Nats, Lies, and Videotape

So who’s a “conspiracy theorist” now?!

National’s Ohariu candidate admits contact by Simon Lusk

National MP Mark Mitchell and his breath-taking display of arrogance

Key on Banks; Staunch, stupid, or stuck?

But will he remember this helicopter flight in one year’s time?






= fs =


  1. Unfortunately Frank the wider public dont have the inclination nor ability to look that deeply….as the National Party strategists well know,

    Accumulative damage.

    • “Accumulative damage”.

      That is precisely the point, Frank. By itself, this story will be forgotten as the news cycle rolls over. But as we all know, government’s die by a thousand tiny cuts, and this will be but one of many little jabs.

      It is a shame indeed, as John W pointed out below, that the msm haven’t looked any further into past instances of RNZAF aircraft being used by politicians.

      • The MSM (and even surprisingly RNZ to a degree) are suffering from multiple challenges that enable and accentuate this problem…so in many instances (though certainly not all) it is in a sense understandable.

  2. RNZ news was keen to cover the Mitchel mutterings but i have yet to hear about a fuller analysis of defence resources used by National Govt members.
    The RNZ balance is getting worse as we hear US propaganda about their wars daily and unchallenged.

    Who is controlling this state owned media.

  3. Unfortunately, neither The Nation nor Q+A this weekend followed up with any investigative reporting on this issue.

    Which is disappointing. It should not be up to unpaid bloggers to hold the National Party up to scrutiny to hold them to account for their mis-use of State assets.

  4. The problem is while in opposition Ron Marks continually criticised the buying and useing of the helicopters because of the running costs but now in government seems to not be worried about them.

    • ‘The problem is…he seems to not be worried about (running costs).

      I’m not sure Ron Mark does ‘worried’.

      Given that he actually gets off his tail and goes to visit the various camps, talks to people high and low, finds out and then acts – the worry is probably being felt by the people who recommended the gas guzzlers in the first place – including those lovely shmoozers now in Opposition.

      NailsRUs must be doing a roaring trade in repairs…:-)

  5. Kudos to Mitchell.

    He tried to play the role of desperate village idiot trying to achieve relevance.
    He did it excellently.

  6. Mitchell has reached the top of his career now, he must realise, there is nothing higher he will ever become, as MP and spokesperson for this and that (defence).

    He is simply over rated by some in the media, and by some within National.

    I cannot see that man be a minister of sorts, should the Nats ever get back into government some time soon.

    He is not that bright, and a true hypocrite, as the post reveals.

  7. This reflects badly on our MSM who are failing to do their public duty. RNZ is getting worse by the day, sourcing CNN News, opinions and not seeking alternative narratives, or evidence. There is only one perspective, the US / UK. What about the Chinese, Russian , German, Iranian, Alt US media view?

  8. Another well-researched piece by you, Frank. Labour or the Greens should employ you as their researcher!!!

  9. And now with the Greens handing over their question-time to the Nats, I guess we can expect more of the same BS???

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