How Kiwis are making an impact on Ukraine's frontline

New Zealand is making a bigger contribution to the Ukraine war than we realise.

That's the message from the frontline, where Kiwi aid workers, soldiers and medics are dedicating their lives to the cause.

The New Zealand Government has recently pledged a near-$26 million financial aid package to Ukraine, but it's what's happening behind the scenes that is building a life-long bond between Ukraine, and our small nation a world away.

"New Zealand and all the people there are forever in my heart and hopefully after the victory, I will fly there and see those people, shake their hands and say thanks for all the support," said Kyiv resident Oleksii Tspenko.

Tspenko's team of Ukrainian men are building water boilers for those living in desperate need, in bombed-out homes, along the front line of the war.

"They have no roofs, no gas, no electricity. So it's making heat, it's warming them, they can cook and they can warm their clothes," he said.

The project is fully funded by New Zealand charity Kiwi K.A.R.E (Kiwi Aid and Refugee Evacuation), and already more than 1500 life-saving water boilers have been delivered to families.

Murupara's Riki Roberts has recently moved to Ukraine to join the humanitarian effort.

He said Aotearoa's contribution to this war is far-reaching.

"You know Kiwis, we're in the shadow bandits when we decide to help, it's the beauty of being New Zealanders. We don't really talk about it, we just get in and do it," he said.

"There are a lot of Kiwis up here, for whatever reason, whether they're soldiers or humanitarian workers or medics. There are more than what New Zealanders think."

Murupara's Riki Roberts and fellow Kiwi Owen Pomana.
Murupara's Riki Roberts and fellow Kiwi Owen Pomana. Photo credit: Newshub

Roberts and fellow Kiwi Owen Pomana are currently in the danger zone of Dnipro, working together to deliver aid and run a respite house for soldiers.

"These are medics and doctors who are serving on the frontline who have asked us, New Zealand, to help. And we've said, 'yeah of course!'" Pomana said.

Christchurch photojournalist Tom Mutch has dedicated the past two years of his life to covering this war and is vowing not to stop until the conflict does.

He thinks our Government could be doing more, pointing out that we have had three Prime Ministers since the war started, yet not one has made the effort to visit Kyiv, like many other world leaders have.

"I've always thought that is a real shame and let down," Mutch said.

"This is one of the few conflicts we will have in our lifetime where it is a struggle between good against evil."

The New Zealand Defence Force has played a big part in New Zealand's contribution, training over 2700 Ukrainian soldiers and getting them fit for the frontline.

"By comparison that's more than half of the New Zealand army so for a small nation we've really punched above our weight," explained Senior National Office Major Matt Blake.

"Peace matters, Ukraine matters and this mission really matters."