Shane Jones says he was at a professional gun club while on holiday. - Photo: RNZ / YouTube
The New Zealand First MP and Minister Shane Jones is still backing the firearms ban, despite being pictured with what appears to be an AR-15 semi-automatic while holidaying in Asia.
The minister recently went to a gun club while in Thailand and used several firearms, including one that appears to be an AR-15 semi-automatic, which is banned in New Zealand, following the Christchurch mosque attacks.
The holiday photos that were posted on Facebook have since been removed.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that Mr Jones received a slap on the wrist from the Prime Minister, who told him he should take the Cabinet manual with him during recess, following his comments at a forestry conference.
Shane Jones said he was at a professional gun club, but had no idea of the technical name of the gun he was using.
"It's a situation where you go in, you have a crack at using different types of rifles and guns and to be perfectly honest with you, I have never seen one before, but now I can say I've fired it and I certainly know we don't need them here in New Zealand," he said.
He added he was more of a "shotgun man".
Mr Jones said the photos did not reflect an erosion of his support for the Cabinet's position.
"I totally support the Cabinet position that I've already agreed to," he said
He said he would just have to chalk it up to some international research and he wouldn't dramatise one photo.
"You go on a holiday, you try different things and it is what it is," he said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Mr Jones' actions had not undermined the government's unified stance on banning military style semi-automatic weapons.
"Look, it's not for me to individually monitor the activities of every minister when they travel overseas.
"Would I have done it? Absolutely not, but the most important thing to me is that minister supports what this government has done, and he does.
"I have never questioned that, I've never seen any sign that he had any hesitation, in fact, I only recall vocal and whole-hearted support for what we've done and that hasn't changed," she said.
Ms Ardern said she hadn't spoken to Mr Jones about this yet, but she would raise it when she next saw him.
She said she would also check whether he had studied up on the Cabinet manual.