A New Zealand soldier who co-founded a veteran’s charity has been killed in Ukraine, authorities said.
Kane Te Tai, 38, helped register the No Duff Charitable Trust to support veterans in crisis.
“It’s with immense sadness that we share the news that No Duff co-founder Kane Te Tai has been reportedly Killed In Action in the Ukraine,” the trust said on Wednesday in a statement on Facebook.
His death was also confirmed by Ukrainian authorities and the New Zealand embassy in Poland was trying to find out more details, the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.
Te Tai had served as an army soldier from 2002 until 2009, according to New Zealand’s defense ministry.
He had served in Afghanistan and was awarded the General Service Medal, the Operational Service Medal and the Defense Service Medal with the clasp “Regular”.
The trust said he was responsible for responding to veterans in crisis.
“Kane was instrumental in the founding of No Duff and responded to multiple responses to veterans in crisis. Without him, No Duff wouldn’t exist. Kane had a huge heart and loved helping people. His loss leaves a huge hole in many lives from here to Eastern Europe. We will ensure his legacy through No Duff lives on,” the statement said.
The trust is coordinating with authorities to have his body returned from Ukraine.
Earlier this week, Te Tai’s mother Ngaire Te Tai said to The New Zealand Herald that she had tried to stop her son from going to Ukraine.
“But he’s a grown man and there’s nothing I could have done,” Ms Te Tai said.
“His entire family tried to persuade him not to go. He’s a very complex fella, my son, but he’s always been very community spirited.”
In an interview with The New Yorker magazine late last year near the frontline village of Pavlivka, where Te Tai was leading a team of foreign volunteer fighters, he said: “I actually do love these people and I love this country.”
“I can’t go home because this is home now. It really does feel that way.”
Additional reporting by agencies