By Anneke Smith for RNZ

It cost nearly $40,000 to fly the man responsible for the Christchurch mosque attacks to and from Christchurch in an Air Force Hercules for his sentencing.

The Australian terrorist was jailed for life without parole over the 15 March attacks in what was a New Zealand first, last month.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to murdering 51 worshippers at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre, and to shooting and injuring 40 more in an attempt to murder them.

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Christchurch mosque attack: Mass killer Brenton Tarrant tried to avoid appearing at own sentencing

Brenton Tarrant stepped off a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules in black security kit the day before his four-day sentencing began.

Information released to RNZ under the Official Information Act shows it cost the Defence Force $39,321 to use the Hercules.

Brenton Tarrant, wearing a black vest and helmet, was surrounded by armed police officers as he was led off the aircraft. Photo / Supplied
Brenton Tarrant, wearing a black vest and helmet, was surrounded by armed police officers as he was led off the aircraft. Photo / Supplied

The aircraft's expenses included marginal personnel costs, fuel, airport charges and other associated costs.

Tarrant had asked to attend his sentencing remotely; his lawyers arguing it would save costs and avoid the need for secure transfer from Auckland to Christchurch.

It was a request opposed by the Crown, who said there was no reason why the sentencing should not be conducted in the ordinary way with the defendant physically present.

Justice Mander ultimately ordered Tarrant be in court for the sentencing; citing concerns he could be trying to avoid being held publicly accountable for his crimes.

The mosque shooter has been designated a terrorist entity since his sentencing; freezing his assets and making it a criminal offence to participate in or support his activities.

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Victims and politicians have expressed varying views on whether or not he should be incarcerated in New Zealand at a cost of $5000 a day or be sent back to Australia.