Fierce haka for fallen SAS soldier

04:07, Oct 04 2011
FIERCE FAREWELL: Comrades of fallen soldier Leon Smith perform a haka on the ramp of the plane.
FIERCE FAREWELL: Comrades of fallen soldier Leon Smith perform a haka on the ramp of the plane.

Comrades of killed Auckland SAS soldier Leon Smith have farewelled him from Afghanistan with a fierce haka.

Lance Corporal Smith, of the Special Air Service (SAS) was killed last week after being shot in the head in the Afghanistan province of Wardak.

The Defence Force has said the SAS were supporting the local police crisis response unit stop a suspected insurgent suicide attack in the nearby capital Kabul at the time.

Leon Smith
FALLEN SOLDIER: Leon Smith was killed in an operation near Kabul.

Smith's unit today passed his body into the care of a crew onboard a Australian Defence Force C 17 transport aircraft, which would take him to an undisclosed location before being transferred to a flight back to New Zealand.

Their haka, performed on the ramp of the plane, included the line: "Ko wai matou e, We are the pilgrims master we shall go always a little further."

In photos provided of the service by the New Zealand Defence Force, the SAS soldiers' faces are blurred, keeping with protocol that their identities are not revealed.

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An SAS service will be held at Papakura this week before Smith's body is returned to his family, who will hold a private funeral.

Defence Force chief  Lieutenant General Rhys Jones said he was grateful for the assistance and care provided by the Australians.

"I know they have had to face the loss of their own in Afghanistan," he said, in a release today.

"I have also expressed my thanks to others who have helped speed Trooper Smith's return to his family."

"My thoughts and those of the whole NZDF, and indeed all of New Zealand, are with his family as they face their loss," Jones said.

- Fairfax NZ