Former defence minister Ron Mark en route to Ukraine

By Whatitiri Te Wake

Ron Mark has left Romania where he was assisting with efforts to pack food and supplies destined for Ukraine. The former NZ Aarmy officer is now on the way to the war-torn country.

Mark has answered the call of faith-based volunteer Owen Pōmana (Ngāti Kahungunu) who has been on the ground coordinating aid for Ukrainians.

Pōmana revealed in a social media post on Thursday that the “cat was out of the bag” that Mark had joined their efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to Ukraine by the truckload.

While MPs shared their concern for the conflict happening in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta warned against New Zealanders travelling to Ukraine given the enormity of the conflict.

“Me kaua e haere ki tērā wāhi nā runga i te pakanga nui. Nā runga i te tino mōhio kāore mātou e tino ahei ana ki te whakahaumaru i a rātou”

“(We advise) not to go to that place, knowing well it’s a significant area of conflict. It's also because we can’t guarantee safety for those who choose to go” she said

When asked if she thought Mark would be a target, she said although she couldn’t speak to specific cases, the travel advisory had made a clear expression that people should not be travelling to Ukraine and New Zealand's ability to support them would be limited.

Back in March, Mark warned against New Zealanders wanting to take up arms in Ukraine and instead opt for humanitarian work

“Pretty much the view is, don’t go as much as it might gut you to think that you could be doing something,” he said.

Despite the safety concerns, Mark and Owen with other humanitarian organisations will make the eight-hour trip to Ukraine at 5pm today NZT.

Despite safety concerns, he's carrying on. Later tonight will speak to former Minister Ron Mark and update this story.