Kane Te Tai, former New Zealand soldier, killed in Donbas fighting Russians
Kane Te Tai (Photo:Kane Iatet / Facebook)
Kane Te Tai, a 38-year-old volunteer fighter from New Zealand, died while fighting for the International Legion, the press service of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate, or HUR, reported on Facebook on March 23.
Te Tai, also known as Turtle, has been in Ukraine since the onset of Russia’s full-scale invasion. In May 2022, he assisted Kharkiv volunteers, organized first aid training, and delivered medical aid to the de-occupied territories with his friend David, a former U.S. serviceman.
Te Tai was among the soldiers that made a gruesome discovery while liberating a village near Bakhmut in March 2023. They found Ukrainian prisoners in a basement who had been held captive by Russian occupiers. Among the prisoners was a Ukrainian soldier who had been deprived of food and water for over 40 days.
Thanks to the brave efforts of Te Tai and his comrades, the soldier was rescued and brought to safety.
Te Tai’s parents say that he decided to become a soldier while still in school. He served for almost ten years, later co-founding a charity to support veterans' mental health. He served in Afghanistan and fought in Ukraine as a member of the International Legion, training volunteers in the Vuhledar region.
He tragically lost his life in battle in eastern Ukraine, leaving behind a 12-year-old daughter.
“For many in New Zealand, Te Tai was the face of the country’s unofficial involvement in Ukraine’s war,” wrote UK newspaper the Guardian, reporting the soldier’s death.
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