UPDATED:

A candidate for the Tauranga mayoralty has brought out the big guns: Willie Apiata.

But it's not tactical advice candidate Tenby Powell was seeking from New Zealand's only Victoria Cross recipient - it's a hug.

Powell, who holds the rank of colonel in the New Zealand Army, posted a shot of himself posing with Apiata on Facebook last week.

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He described the visit as a "sanity check" from the busy campaign and said Apiata had "driven down for a hug".

Apiata, who earned the medal for rescuing a wounded comrade under fire in Afghanistan in 2004, is notoriously media-shy.

He has stepped into the spotlight this year, however to raise awareness about support for the welfare of men and women who leave the services.

Powell is no stranger to the political art of citing influential friends. having already found opportunity to bring up his connections for former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, among others.

He was also spotted hustling for a handshake snap with Shane Jones when the minister visited Tauranga earlier this month.

Powell said he did not want to comment when contacted by the Bay of Plenty Times on Tuesday.

However, in another Facebook post he criticised the Bay of Plenty Times for its reporting of the meeting.

Outlining, the reason why he and Apiata met, he said in 2008, he was the executive producer on the documentary, 'Reluctant Hero', the story of Apiata's journey to winning the Victoria Cross.

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"We filmed the combat footage at the RNZAF Air Weapons range at Kiapara, which needed to be heavily augmented with CGI to realistically capture the weight and intensity of fire that Willie and the NZSAS patrol endured that night.

"So Yes - Willie is a mate and, yes, he bought a hug with him, as he always does for everyone. What we mostly talked about was how I can assist him with his extraordinary initiative called 'Post Transition' - a social and business enterprise established to highlight and address some of the challenges faced by Military personnel as they transition to civilian life both at home and in the workplace.

"Willie is working tirelessly to ensure we leave no man (or woman) behind in the vice-like grip of depression.

"So, when Wille reached out to me, I willingly met him because I want to support my mate."