As a car bomb rocked the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, killing nine people and injuring 95 more, Lance Corporal Nicholas Hill from 2/4 Battalion sprang into action.

As the city descended into chaos, Mr Hill was able to give first aid to his fellow soldiers and transport civilians across the capital city to hospitals.

Today, the 29-year-old leaves New Zealand for Gallipoli after recently winning the Barralough Trophy, awarded by New Zealand Defence Force for New Zealand Reservist of the Year.

Read more: Bay of Plenty nominated for NZ's top destination


He was also bestowed the honour of wearing a kahu huruhuru (a feathered cloak) during Anzac Day commemorations and services this year in Turkey.

The cloak is called Nga Tapuwae (meaning "footsteps") and represents the link between those who served our country in the past and those serving today.

It was blessed and presented to the head of the Defence Force last week.

The trophy and award came as a surprise to him, he said.

"It was a shock - there were 11 other reservists from around the three forces in New Zealand."

I was overwhelmed, it is quite a massive thing. It (the cloak) represents so much mana, so much pride amongst New Zealanders.


Mr Hill said the 12 men competed over a day-long competition, then each spoke on a select topic during a formal dinner.

"I was overwhelmed, it is quite a massive thing. It (the cloak) represents so much mana, so much pride amongst New Zealanders.

"That was the overwhelming part for me, especially because of what it does represent - the forebears and everybody before me, especially for WWI and the sacrifice that was made."

Mr Hill was looking forward to visiting different battlefields along the peninsula and being able to pay respect to the men who lost their lives.

"It's not just appreciating what New Zealand and Australia did. It's also the Turks. The Ottoman Empire, as well as the French and the Brits, at the time they lost a lot of people. The Brits and the French lost respectively more than 10,000 on the peninsula and the Turks lost around 68,000.

"New Zealand lost 2700. When you think about those numbers and what is going on around that area, you take in the full picture.

"So we are going to go look at a lot of battlefields and then at the sites respective to New Zealanders. It will be quite an emotional time."

Read more: SuperGold changes 'still a bit vague'

On April 25, Mr Hill will attend the dawn service at Anzac Commemorative Site, Gallipoli. He will then speak at the site of Battle of Chunuk Bair, where a lot of New Zealand soldiers lost their lives, wearing Nga Tapuwae.

Mr Hill grew up in Tauranga and went to Matua Primary School, then Bethlehem College.

"I remember hearing about the WWI when I was younger but not really understanding what it really meant.

"The biggest thing for me is understanding [for his trip] and having that homage.

"I guess that is why a lot of Kiwis do, as well as Australians. They go to Gallipoli to understand and find out what it means. It is part of our culture and fabric as a nation. To be able to go there, and understand it, is huge."

When Mr Hill was 19 he joined the Defence Force as an armoured crewman, "driving and gunning a New Zealand light armoured vehicle - which is a big eight-wheeled tanker".

Three years later he was deployed to Afghanistan. During his time there, a few events would sway his decision about his career.

"A car bomb went off where we were staying, near the headquarters for the mission in Afghanistan.

"I was tactical responder who attended to many injuries of my friends. I was also one of the first people on the scene and drove an ambulance across parts of Kabul to transport the injured to hospitals.

"My interest and passion for medicine came from that event. I had medical training above what normal soldiers get trained so I knew what to do, but I decided to go into nursing to further that knowledge."

He came home and enrolled in a nursing course in Christchurch, but joined the reservists at the same time as he missed the camaraderie of the army.

Today he is employed by the Defence Force as a nursing officer at Palmerston North Hospital, where he will spend the next 12months.

Next year, he will de deployed on missions again.

"If I use the All Blacks as an analogy, you don't train and not play the game. You don't train not to go overseas and contribute to New Zealand's efforts - you contribute in any way that you can."