The bodies of two New Zealand soldiers killed in Afghanistan have arrived back in New Zealand.
Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone died in a gunfight with rebels in Bamyan province on 4 August. They were on their first deployment to Afghanistan and were serving with the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team.
Lance-Corporal Malone was fatally shot while trying to rescue his company commander, who had been injured in the first exchanges of gunfire. Lance-Corporal Durrer died while being evacuated.
Both men were 26 and unmarried, and had been based at Burnham Military Camp. Both had also previously served in Timor-Leste.
Their bodies arrived in Christchurch late on Thursday on a United States Air Force C-17 and were met by members of their families, senior military officials and other personnel. A ramp ceremony was held when the caskets were taken off the plane.
Arrangements are being made for a commemorative service at Burnham Military Camp on Saturday, before the soldiers are returned to their families.
The Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, says the service is very grateful for the help of the US Defence Department which enabled Lance Corporals Durrer and Malone to come home as quickly as possible.
Members of the Provincial Reconstruction Team escorted the bodies home.
Lieutenant Colonel Pete Hall says a ceremony in Bagram, where the caskets were placed on the plane, was moving and solemn.