Production of the de Havilland DH 89A Dragon Rapide comennced in 1934, the prototype flying from Hatfield for the first time on 17 April 1934. It was essentially a replacement for the DH 84 Dragon, with many of the improvements in design introduced in the DH 86 Express four-engined airliner.
During the Second World War a number of DH 89B aircraft were delivered to the RAF for use as radio and navigation trainers under the name Dominie. A total of 697 DH 89s had been completed when production ceased in 1946. Cook Straight Airways imported the first of five Rapides in 1935 for use between Nelson, Wellington, Blenheim, Westport and Greymouth. Fourteen were impressed into the RNZAF in 1943 and used for training and reconnaissance duties. NAC had six between 1947 and 1964, including ZK-AKU, now privately owned and based at Ardmore.