The New Zealand First Team
New Zealand First candidate for Wairarapa
Minister of Defence and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Ron Mark was born in Masterton, and raised as a ward of the state. He grew up in foster homes in Napier and the Wairarapa before attending Tararua College. At 16 he was accepted into the New Zealand Army’s Regular Force Cadet School, Waiouru, graduating into the Regular Army in 1971 as a soldier mechanic.
In 1978 he was accepted for Officer Cadet Training and graduated as a 2nd Lieutenant.
In 1982, as a mechanical engineering officer, he successfully completed the NZSAS selection course and was one of five New Zealand Army officers sent to assist in setting up a new multi-national peace keeping operation the Sinai desert.
Ron completed two back to back tours and was repatriated in 1983, but was refused permission by his corps to be posted to NZSAS to complete his training - a decision which resulted in Ron leaving the NZ Army in 1985 as a Captain and taking up an offer of service with the Sultan of Oman's Land Forces and the Sultan's Special Force in the Dhofar. He retired as a Major in 1990.
On his return to Christchurch, Ron worked as a business consultant which eventually led to his setting up his own leisure and entertainment business which he ran for six years during which time he became involved in politics.
Ron Mark was first elected to Parliament in 1996 as a New Zealand First List MP. Ron’s ability to organise and lead was quickly recognised and he was appointed Chief Whip of New Zealand First and Junior Whip in the National/New Zealand First Coalition Government. Over the next 12 years Ron held a multiplicity of appointments including spokesman for New Zealand First on Defence, Law and Order, Corrections, Police, Mental Health, Veteran’s Affairs, Disarmament and Arms Control, Sport and Recreation and Youth Affairs.
In 1999 Ron was appointed by the Maori Land Court.
In the same year he was elected as a Director of the Mangakino Township Incorporation and the Wairarapa Moana Trust, all three Maori entities owned by the Ngati Kahungunu people of the Wairarapa.
Having seen through the redevelopment and merger of the two commercial entities, Ron is currently Deputy Chair of the Wairarapa Moana Incorporation, a $200 million, 11,000 hectare, Maori Agri-business.
Since 2008, Ron has held appointments as a contractor for the Ministry of Maori Development Te Puni Kokiri and the Chief Executive of the Federation of Maori Authorities.
In 2010 Ron was elected as a Trustee for the Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tamaki Nui a Rua (Treaty Settlement) Trust and in 2012 was appointed Lead Negotiator.
Ron’s previous Maori governance roles include service with the Paparua Maori Charitable Trust in Christchurch, Trustee on the Papawai Kaumatua Housing Trust in Greytown, Advisory Trustee on the Makirikiri Aggregated Maori Lands Trust in Masterton and Advisory Trustee on a Horowhenua Maori Land Trust in Levin.
In 2010 Ron was elected mayor of Carterton and was re-elected unopposed in 2013. During that time he served on the South Wairarapa Safer Community Council, the Wairarapa Safer Community HUB, the Wairarapa Governance Review Working Party, the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands Group, the Wairarapa Water Use Project Leadership Group and the MSD sponsored Wairarapa Social Sector Trial Advisory Group.
Between 2008 and 2014 Ron also worked as a radio talkback host for Radio Live and Newstalk ZB and was a regular political commentator for TV1 and TV3.
In addition, he has continued his private work for “Fostering Kidz” providing mentoring and support for both foster parents and foster kids and for the Canterbury Maori mental health service provider Te Awa Ora for whom he is patron.
In 2013 Ron was appointed by the Minister of Health to both the Wairarapa and Hutt Valley District Health Boards, where he worked with the board of Capital & Coast DHB.
Ron resigned as mayor of Carterton and relinquished all his DHB appointments upon being elected to parliament in 2014, as well as the position of Lead Negotiator of the NKKWTNAR (Treaty Settlement) Trust.
Ron is of Maori and Irish descent. His iwi affiliations are Ngati Raukawa, Te Arawa, Tuwharetoa, Ati Awa, Ngati Porou, Whakatohea and Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa. Ron is a father of five and a grandfather of 11.
Ron and his partner Christine live on a small block on the outskirts of Carterton where they enjoy raising a few cattle beasts for the freezer, and the peace and quiet of country living.
Ron’s honours and decorations include the Royal Order of Oman, the Oman Peace Medal, the New Zealand Operational Service Medal, the New Zealand General Service Medal (Sinai) and the Multinational Force and Observers Medal with bar.