Grave fears New Zealander Kane Te Tai fighting in Ukraine has died

Newshub understands there are grave fears tonight that Kiwi soldier Kane Te Tai may have been killed in action in Ukraine.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it is aware of reports that a New Zealander had died there but it wasn't confirming any more details at this stage.

In Eastern Ukraine on Monday, Te Tai proclaimed his last job leading Ukrainian fighters as "the best he ever had".

He never saw himself as a mercenary, but embraced the Ukrainians and their cause.

"I like 'em and love 'em enough to still be here despite a lot of the stuff that's going on so Ukraine has captured my heart so yeah," he said. 

Two Kiwis are known to have died in the war. Aid worker Andrew Bagshaw in January and Te Tai's good friend off-duty soldier Corporal Dominic Abelen last August. Te Tai was with Abelen when he died and posted on Abelen's birthday at the weekend:

"We also remember the strength of your character, your relentless pursuit to go to the next level and your ability to fight, here that means more than anything else. You are still the measuring stick we stand against." 

Last week, Te Tai posted footage of a dramatic rescue of a friend everyone thought was dead.

Te Tai has been a prolific poster on social media, going to the trouble of answering those who questioned his involvement in the conflict.

When one sceptic asked him how he ended up in Ukraine he told them he got lost on the way to Australia.

The 38-year-old appeared to accept the possibility of death.

Speaking before he left last April, Te Tai said he knew it could be a one-way trip but he thought it was worth it.

"Sometimes I just pass kids in a lot of places and I just think to myself 'man like live your life, ride that bike because come tomorrow you might be like running for your life or you might just not have one any more'."

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