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Statements from families of soldiers killed in Bamyan

Media Release

21 August 2012
The New Zealand Defence Force has released the following statements on behalf of the families of Corporal Luke Tamatea, Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker and Private Richard Harris who were killed in Afghanistan on 19 August 2012.

NZ Defence Force continue to ask the media to respect the privacy of the families at this very difficult time.

Statement on behalf of Tamatea family:

There is no statement that could describe how saddened we are by the passing of Luke. This is a difficult time for our family, Luke’s friends and his brothers in the Battalion.

Luke took his job in the Army extremely seriously and was very proud of his service. When he went to Banda Aceh in response to the tsunami, he really wanted to be on the first flight in as this meant he could make the most difference in people’s lives.

The Army provided Luke with so many opportunities and it really changed his life around. He was a natural leader and was able to use his skills and experience helping others.

We are immensely proud of what Luke has achieved in 31 short years. Luke was a consummate professional as a soldier as his accomplishments show, but his proudest achievement is in his family he is leaving behind who will miss him most, particularly his four beautiful daughters who will remain his legacy.

The loss of Luke; the father, son, grandson, partner, brother, nephew, cousin and friend is difficult for us and our wider friends and family. For this reason we ask that you respect our privacy and allow us time to grieve.

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Statement on behalf of Baker family:

Jacinda was and will always be remembered as an amazing daughter, partner, sister, granddaughter, great granddaughter, cousin, niece, friend and soldier in the New Zealand Army. We are still coming to grips with what has happened and words cannot express what we are feeling. We feel forever blessed to have known her in her short 26 years. She was only nine days away from her 27th birthday on August 28th.

Jacinda was a girl full of spirit, always ready for her next adventure. She was fearless and would give anything a go.

Jacinda was loyal and our rock. She was the one to turn to if you needed someone calm, with practical help to get you through whatever it was you were going through.

Jacinda was professional. She was proud to be a medic in the New Zealand Army, proud of the work she carried out, and we in turn were and are so incredibly proud of her.

We know that she is in an amazing place with her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, however, we will miss her more than she ever will know. She leaves behind a hole in our family that can never be filled. We realise that we are not alone in this – there are two other families also grieving with the loss of their loved ones – and all of our sincere best wishes and condolences go to those families. Our love and prayers are with them. We also wish to give thanks for the amazing love and support we have experienced from so many different people. We ask for respect and privacy as we mourn the death of our child.

Photo Caption: Jacinda and her partner Geoff Fosbender on New Years eve in Stewart Island 2011. They have been together for close to two years.

Statement on behalf of Harris family:
Richard Lee Harris

Iwi affiliation Ngapuhi/Ngati Maru

30 September 1990 - 19 August 2012

Richard was our pride and joy. He was such a good boy who loved his whanau dearly and loved life.

Rich was a laid back, quiet, fun loving, mischievous guy who would light up the room with his smile. He had a passion for rugby, playing junior boys for Patumahoe, then the First XV for three years while at Pukekohe high school. In his free time he liked chilling with the bros.

Richard, the youngest son of Sandra and the late Harry Harris, grew and matured into a really cool young man who we are all so proud of. He travelled back to his kainga Hokianga in April this year prior to being deployed to Afghanistan and spent time with his extended whanau. Richard loved the Army and was looking forward to going to Afghanistan.

Richard's tangi will be held at Piki Te Aroha Marae, Rahiri, Hokianga and he will be laid to rest beside his father, the late Harry Harris in the Hutoia Urupa, Rahiri Settlement.

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