Hundreds of people have gathered in Christchurch on Saturday for a military service for the two New Zealand soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone, both aged 26, were shot by insurgents in Bamyan province where they were serving with New Zealand's Provincial Reconstruction Team.
Their bodies were returned home on Thursday.
At the service at Burnham Military Camp, Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae, former Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force, paid tribute to the two men and expressed his grief for the Malone and Durrer families on behalf of all New Zealanders.
"As a former soldier, I stand before you with an inkling of the anguish and grief that comes from losing mates-in-arms and how profoundly it affects the family, friends and colleagues of those whom we mourn today," he said.
"Having a loved one deployed overseas, to a war-torn country where safety can never be guaranteed, is a situation few find themselves in. I understand the worry and the unease that comes with that.
"However, to have your greatest fear realised is something that even fewer are confronted with," he said.
Sir Jerry also quoted one of the last letters of Lieutenant Colonel William Malone, the commanding officer of the Wellington Battalion of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force who was killed at Gallipoli and who is the great, great grandfather of Lance Corporal Malone.
In the letter to his wife Ida, Lt Col Malone paid tribute to the sacrifice she had made to allow him to serve his country.
Sir Jerry said that when soldiers, sailors and airmen and women are deployed overseas, their thoughts are often of loved-ones at home.
Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said that life in the province of Bayman was better because of the efforts of the brave soldiers being mourned.
"Pralli and Rory will not lie in some corner of a foreign field.
"They are back on their own soil, to be mourned by the people who cared about them most, in the country they called home and which is so very, very grateful for their invaluable and important service."The bodies will now be returned to their families for private funeral services.
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