The bodies of the three New Zealand soldiers killed in Afghanistan are tonight with their families after being farewelled by their military colleagues today.
Hundreds turned up to pay their respects to Corporal Luke Tamatea, Private Richard Harris and Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker at a memorial service at Burnham Military Camp near Christchurch this afternoon.
The trio were killed when a roadside bomb hit their vehicle near Do Abe in Bamiyan province last Sunday.
In his speech at the ceremony, Prime Minister John Key said the whole of New Zealand could be proud of the three soldiers.
"All three were people you could be proud of, that I am proud of, and that New Zealand is proud of.
"These were three courageous, committed people that made a difference in the world."
Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae told the families the trio represented the best traditions of New Zealand's contribution to resisting tyranny and to bringing peace and stability to conflict-ridden lands.
"There is nothing I can say that will erase the painful grief that burns in your hearts for those whose lives were tragically cut short."
"What I can say is that those you lost served with great honour. They demonstrated at the highest level of courage, comradeship, commitment and integrity, which are the values the New Zealand Defence Force holds as central to underpinning its ethos."
Tamatea, Baker and Harris were welcomed home with an emotional haka in Christchurch on Thursday when their bodies arrived on an Air Force Hercules.
The families will now hold private funeral services for their loved ones.
Only a fortnight ago, a similar ceremony took place for Lance Corporal Pralli Durrer and Lance Corporal Rory Malone, who were killed when their patrols went to the aid of police in the same province.