Prime Minister John Key is standing by his decision to identify Victoria Cross recipient Willie Apiata as one of two SAS soldiers photographed in Afghanistan.
The New Zealand Herald published the picture on Thursday, and it was picked up by other media. Later on the same day Mr Key told journalists that one of the soldiers was Corporal Apiata.
Mr Key says he revealed Corporal Apiata's identity after his press secretary told him members of the media were going to ask for confirmation, and he didn't want to lie.
Mr Key repeated that the photograph puts the soldiers lives at risk, and says both Corporal Apiata and a second soldier pictured have been given the option of returning home.