Key Points:

A former New Zealand soldier has been killed while working for a private security firm in Iraq.

Darryl de Thierry, 34, had just returned to work in the war-torn country when his armoured vehicle ran over a landmine on Tuesday.

He worked for the same London security firm as Teina Ngamata, an ex-soldier killed in Baghdad last August.

Mr de Thierry served alongside Mr Ngamata in the New Zealand Army and the men died in similar ways - a blast caused by an improvised explosive device planted under their convoys.

Mr de Thierry's widow, Desiree, was last night on her way to Kuwait to collect his body before returning to his family home in Te Aroha.

The couple have a daughter, Lyric, thought to be aged 10.

The family moved to the Gold Coast two years ago, when Mr de Thierry took his first contract in Iraq, because it was closer for him to visit on breaks between the 12-week stretches of work.

He was contracted to ArmorGroup, a London firm employing 9000 people in almost 40 countries, including world hotspots like Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Sudan.

Mr de Thierry's father, who did not want his name published, yesterday told the Herald his son had died doing something he loved.

"He knew the dangers and knew our feelings. We didn't want him to go at all but at the end of the day it's his own choice."

Mr Ngamata's widow, Cheryl, said: "It's sort of like history repeating itself."

She was in contact with Mr de Thierry before he left for his second stint in Iraq two weeks ago.

"He was saying that he really felt for us [Mrs Ngamata and her children], what had happened to us and they [Mr de Thierry and his family] are always there to give their support if there's anything they can do for the kids and me."

Mr de Thierry joined the Army straight from school and was "skilled to the limit" for his work in Iraq, said his father.

He had contacted his family two weeks ago to say he was going to sign a new contract with ArmorGroup.

His father did not know where his son was based when he was killed.

"He was in this convoy, in one of the latest high-tech vehicles you can travel in. From what I can gather, it ran over a landmine."

Condolences were posted on the social networking website Bebo yesterday and Mrs de Thierry thanked people for their thoughts.

"This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but Darryl is and always will be the love of our lives, and I will bring him home."

Mr de Thierry left the New Zealand Army as a corporal in February 2005 after 14 years' service, including tours of duty in Bosnia (1994-95) and East Timor (1999-2001).

Mr de Thierry's father said he had thought every day about the dangers of his son working in Iraq.

Mrs Ngamata said Mrs de Thierry had been due to attend the unveiling of Teina's headstone in Rarotonga next week.

A spokesman for ArmorGroup, Patrick Sewell, said: "Darryl's skills and sense of humour gave confidence to the clients he supported, as well as maintaining the morale of his own colleagues in difficult circumstances."

Danger money

* Around 2000 New Zealanders, mostly with military or police backgrounds, have taken contracts to work in Iraq.

* They earn $450 to $500 a day providing security.

additional reporting: Alanah May Eriksen