'It's not glorifying war': Young Kiwi dedicates life to interviewing NZ WW2 veterans

Palmerston North's Patrick Bronte has made it his life's work to film interviews of New Zealand's few remaining World War II veterans.

He's recorded the experiences of almost 300 of them.

"It's not hero worship, it's not glorifying war in any way - it's maintaining a good hold on our heritage," he told Newshub.

Mr Bronte's body of work has attracted the attention and admiration of New Zealand's top military historians, including Chris Puglsey.

"What he has got is a goldmine that we should be cherishing," Mr Pugsley said. "Patrick is one of these unsung professionals who does it for love."

Mr Bronte travels the North Island interviewing any veterans who agree to speak to him. They're not only World War II veterans, but Kiwis who've served in all war and conflicts including the Malayan Emergency, Vietnam, and Afghanistan.

"They all have that same Kiwi attitude," he said. "That same sense of pride within themselves, but it's very... they're not ones to crow about it."

But while the elderly soldiers he interviews are usually able-bodied, Mr Bronte himself is confined to a wheelchair, the result of a diving accident when he was 16.

"My body's just doing nothing. I've just gotta drag it round with me. So therefore I have to concentrate on what the body dictates, and that dictates how many people I can see every year."

But battling his considerable barriers has led to some unexpected benefits in his work.

"When Patrick comes in, in his chair, there's no question of sympathy, he's there to talk - and they immediately relate to him," Mr Pugsley said.

"They see him as a survivor. And so these veterans who are survivors immediately relate and there's an empathy there that is hard to quantify because they speak to him in a detail, revealing secrets."

Mr Bronte agrees the veterans are usually "very open" with him.

"When any New Zealand veteran from any conflict says to you that you're doing a good job, and what you're doing is a good thing, then that's the reward.

"That's all the reward I need for what I'm trying to achieve."

Mr Bronte's now set himself another mission. He's set up a Givealittle page so his website 'Nga Toa - Many Warriors' can be upgraded to contain the many hundreds of hours of interviews he has recorded.

"I've learned a lot about what my limits are and to not get too lofty with my goals. And dreams are good - but I need to keep my feet upon the ground."