Editor's note: Former NZDF solider Kane Te Tai died last month while defending Ukraine against invasion from its easterly neighbour Russia. Various stories of Te Tai's heroism have emerged including him saving the life of a man who had been starved and shot four times by Russian forces.
His whānau have released the following letter penned by Kane before his death, explaining why he went to Ukraine.
Not that I think that I'll be in the news, or worthy of being in the news, but here's for if so and obviously I haven't made it, here it is. I never really liked you guys anyway (haha).
I've enjoyed myself here I've learnt to live and to love here. I have fallen in love with the people, the country. I came out here not fully knowing what I was getting myself into, but now I am here and five months on, my resolve has only grown stronger.
This place has a strength, that appears from the outside, as a picture of propaganda or something that is manufactured. It isn't. The inner strength born from a people invaded is so strong that I, and people like me (including my brother and now deceased team mate Dominic Abelen) are compelled to join this fight.
You'll say this isn't our fight. You're right, it's not our fight. It's not our responsibility to help a mother carry in her groceries when she's trying to get her kid inside. It's not our responsibility to get involved when four teenagers gang up on a kid at a train station. It's not our fight - if we don't want it to be. We can choose to help or not, neither is wrong. But if location or who they are and what their political leaning is and if that is what is bothering you, or the ramifications of what it could bring to our country is your defence, I'll let you in on a little secret. Life makes you choose. And sometimes you've got to expose yourself to help others. Sometimes you have to put some skin in the game, sometimes all of it. But don't let excuses be the thing that stops you from helping others. On many occasions I've told soldiers here about what makes a soldier better, and it comes down to one thing. A good soldier saves energy to save himself but a great soldier digs deep for the energy to save the person next to him. Help one another, if you go out like that then it isn't a waste.
I'm dragging on, and I hate being a bore. In conclusion, I loved my life. I loved the people in it. My friends, my family, the woman who has my heart and my attention and my kid, who along with everyone else is going to wonder why. Here is part of the why. I couldn't leave while others who didn't choose this can't either. I couldn't take the small amount of experience and keeness I have to offer out of a place that needs it. And selfishly, I love this stuff. I haven't felt this satisfied and alive for a long time. It has been great to be around people with the same mindset and goals. To be able to drink from the Oasis in the vast desert again.
This is not a love letter to romantise this choice or a reason for others to follow. Just know what you're getting yourself in for. And if you decide to come then know for sure that this could be it. Your choice has consequences for others too, I have been selfish and made that choice for them.
To my country New Zealand, be happy, be in love, find a reason to be in love with your life. I'll miss your mountains, your rivers and the sea, so much.
To Ukraine, you'll win. You'll see the sunflower fields plentiful under a free yellow and blue flag in the wind soon, I know it. Zhovti Vodi, you'll be in my soul forever.
Lastly, to my team, I know you did your best. Keep going with life, get a W for us and conduct yourselves with courage, honour and compassion as we have done since being here.
My Mexican and Military family, see you guys at the RV in the sky with the rest of our friends. Kura Takahi Puni, Onward.
Слава Україні! (Glory to Ukraine)