Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman has visited New Zealand troops in Afghanistan.
The minister said it was important for him to personally speak to New Zealand army personnel stationed in Afghanistan following the deaths of five New Zealand soldiers in August.
Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone, both aged 26, were killed by insurgents in Bamiyan Province on August 4 after a fierce three-minute gun fight in a village near Do Abe.
Two weeks later Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, 26, Private Richard Harris, 21, and Corporal Luke Tamatea, 31, died when their Humvee was hit by a bomb in Bamiyan Province.
"It was fitting to personally express the government's condolences for the tragic loss of five soldiers that the departing rotation Crib 20 suffered and to thank the group for the on-going professionalism it continued to display," Coleman said.
During the three day visit, which was kept a closely guarded secret due to safety fears, the minister met with the Defence Force's Provincial Reconstruction Team, as well as holding talks with officials in Bamyan and Kabul.
"The visit was an opportunity to offer support to the PRT for the important work it has been performing in providing security to the province," said Coleman.
The 140-strong PRT will pull out of Afghanistan in April next year, after the Government brought the date forward from 2014 in line with other nations.
"I was also able to discuss New Zealand's departure from Bamyan with the Provincial Governor and local security chiefs and to assess the work that needs to be done between now and April to ensure that the gains of the past decade are sustained in the long term," he said.
"New Zealand's decade in Bamyan will have made a massive difference in quality of life to the people there."
As part of the trip Coleman visited New Zealand development projects in Bamyan, focussing on solar energy, agriculture, education and health.
He also spent a day in Kabul where he met with Afghanistan's newly appointed Defence Minister and held talks with senior ISAF commanders.