NH90 choppers always a 'bad buy' - Ron Mark

NZDF NH90 rescuing people from Kaikoura
An Air Force NH90 being used to rescue tourists from Kaikōura after the earthquake (NZ Defence Force)

New Zealand First's Ron Mark is outraged the Defence Force has all but grounded its fleet of eight NH90 helicopters, saying it was inevitable as they're the wrong tool for the job.

"I said right from the outset bad buy, bad decision," he said

Newshub understands the $630m fleet has been stood down from flying over water or dangerous terrain and isn't allowed to carry VIPs.

The move follows an engine failure on Sunday which forced an emergency landing near Blenheim.

Mr Mark, who has served in the Defence Force, says the aircraft were never fit for purpose.

"These aircraft are not maritime aircraft," he said. "These aircraft are not what we should have bought we should never have bought them."

The NZ First defence spokesman says he is sick of seeing Defence Minister's make bad calls and he thinks they are ill-informed.

"It just guts me as a former Defence Force person and officer who talks to defence force personnel all the time to see another disaster."