'What a privilege it is': Defence Minister Ron Mark thanks Jacinda Ardern

New Zealand First deputy leader Ron Mark has given his heartfelt thanks to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for appointing him Minister of Defence and Veterans Affairs.

"I'm not quite sure she realises how personal this is and what a privilege it is," Mr Mark said.

Mr Mark became emotional, shedding tears during a performance of Poppies and Pohutukawa at the Returned Service Association's 101st national council. 

Mr Mark grew up in a number of foster homes before joining the Army's Cadet School in Waiouru at the age of 16.

He served in the Army from 1971-1985.