Russia-Ukraine war: Kiwi goes from comfort of Hamilton to helping out in Ukraine warzone

A Kiwi man who gave up the comfort of his life in the Waikato to head to the Ukrainian city Bucha to help is preparing for another five months of work ahead at least.

It comes as a Ukrainian MP thanked New Zealand for our world-leading response, but asks for us to keep the aid coming. 

Danya Nasuta-Hill walked into the war zone by choice. But when your new home shares a street with a bombsite where three people lost their lives it's hard not to rethink yours.

"Yeah, it was a little alarming," he told Newshub.

It's a world away from the safety of New Zealand - where the 28-year-old watched news of the war and knew he had to do something. He went from working in construction in Hamilton to a warzone in Ukraine.

"Yeah it's a big change, but I'm here to help," Nasuta-Hill said. 

Nowhere needs it more than the broken town of Bucha, where Nasuta-Hill has been helping with the never-ending cleanup.

"As soon as I mention I'm from New Zealand they're all in shock because they've never met a Kiwi before so that's pretty cool, lots of questions back and forth and then yeah okay let's go let's do this work," he said.

While millions have fled Ukraine, Nasuta-Hill is in no hurry to return home. He's come too far.  There's too much to do. And it's all too close to his heart. 

"My grandfather was born in Mariupol, he moved to New Zealand in 1949, so coming back here is me trying to make him proud," Nasuta-Hill said.

The Ukrainians he works alongside are proud too that the spirit of their country has inspired people from another so far away to join their fight for freedom.

When asked what it means to be Ukrainian this was the answer:

"To be a very brave man," Ukrainian Roman Lugovskoy said. "We never accept when someone takes our freedom from us."

Lugovskoy is part of the territorial defence. He's from Mykolaiv where the fighting is fierce. His wife is from Mariupol where survival is scarce.

"I think, I think it's insane," Lugovskoy said.

He chooses to focus on the good in the world to keep himself sane. 

"Speaking to Danya to come over the globe, several countries, several days, to provide help for people you don't know, it's amazing," Lugovskoy said.

New bonds are being formed by war, as historic ones are severed for good. 

In the heart of Kyiv, a statue stood for decades showing a Russian and Ukrainian hand in hand.  

The statue has now been pulled down and the arch, which used to celebrate the friendship between the Soviet Union as the 'the people's friendship arch' has now been officially renamed 'the Ukrainian people's freedom arch'. 

Soldiers from the frontline come to visit, they treat it like a grave. 

"Here lies our friendship with Russia" the wreath reads.

But at this grave, they smile and pose.

"I think it is called 'hatred'," member of Parliament Kira Rudik said. 

She said their Parliament that is grateful for New Zealand's help.

"New Zealand have been actually amazing with the 35 percent tax on all the Russian product, one of the first countries who actually created a tax for all Russian products," Rudik said. 

But there is always more to be done. 

"You can send financial aid to Ukraine, you can open your homes to people who are running from the war, if you have business with Russia, you can stop doing it," she said.

Ukraine is crying out for help from every corner of the world and New Zealand's distance from the front line doesn't mean we can't make a difference in its defence.