Politics | China

Repatriation of fallen NZ soldier's body won't have government's support - Hipkins

While extending his condolences to the whanau of fallen former NZ Defence Force soldier Kane Te Tai who was killed while fighting for Ukraine forces, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said yesterday there was no repatriation process for his body to return due to his voluntary participation in the war.

Te Tai, the third New Zealander to die in Ukraine during the war, was killed in action while clearing a trench last week in the Vuhledar region.

The repatriation of Te Tai’s body is expected to cost more than $65,000. A GiveALittle page to have his body returned has been set up in the last couple of days.

Speaking to teaomā, Hipkins said, "I know that there's a lot of community discussion and support for the family in these circumstances. I just want to reiterate our sympathy for them, for the tragic experience."

He also reiterated the country’s stance on Russia invading Ukraine, condemning Russia for its continued actions and asking Russia to withdraw.

So far, Hipkins and predecessor Jacinda Ardern, have sent non-lethal aid to support Ukraine, including military training, military personnel assistance and more.

“In terms of our position in the conflict, though, we’re not sending troops on the ground.”

While Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, during her visit to China, asked her counterpart Qin Gang to push Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war, Hipkins says it’s a “hypothetical question”  when asked if he would impose sanctions on China if its support for Russia including supplying military hardware.

China is New Zealand's largest export market.

Despite this, Hipkins says the trip outcome, the first time since government officials visited in 2019, was “successful”, with more talks about the upgraded trade agreement between the two counties and more.

Public Interest Journalism