Air New Zealand says a passenger on a flight to New Caledonia was removed after saying he was a terrorist.
Radio New Zealand News understands the passenger was the former Cook Islands Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Henry.
Air New Zealand says the passenger, who it will not name, made the comment at Auckland International Airport when boarding the Noumea-bound craft on Tuesday.
The airline says he was escorted off the flight and booked onto a later service.
A source in the Cook Islands has confirmed Sir Geoffrey was asked to get off the aircraft, but says he was not arrested.
The source says Sir Geoffrey is expected to make a full public statement about the incident on his return to the Cook Islands from Auckland later this week.