An Afghan interpreter who volunteered at an NZDF base and now fears for his life, with the Taliban threatening to behead him for his work with "infidels", has failed in his latest bid for residency in New Zealand.
With the final Kiwi troops pulling out of Afghanistan over the next few weeks, a terrified Nowroz Ali says if he is killed, the New Zealand Government will have blood on its hands.
Kiwi and American soldiers remember Ali as a smiling, trusted face.
He volunteered to help at the front gate of the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (NZ PRT) base in Afghanistan's Bamiyan Province in 2010.
It was the hottest period for the New Zealand soldiers during a 20-year deployment as part of the US-led "war on terror".
Ali's job was translating meetings at the Kiwi base main gate between soldiers and locals, including head of councils.
He even attended high-level summits with NZDF intelligence forces and PRT commanders.
It was a dangerous, unpaid job.
His whole village knew he worked there. And so did the Taliban.
The insurgents – who would kill several New Zealand soldiers in the area - photographed Ali and threatened him.
He was called an apostate whose head must be cut off, his body thrown to the dogs.
Another explicit threat came in the form of a sinister "night letter".
Written in Pashtu, it was posted on the front door to his house, and outlined how he needed to be murdered for his work with the infidels.
"The letter was unsigned but had the seal of the Taliban," Ali tells the Herald.
"After those threats, I decided to leave the village and [have] been hiding in Kabul."
In 2014, having seen many interpreters who worked with the NZDF resettled in New Zealand and given residency, he applied to do the same.
But in February 2015, then Minister of Immigration Michael Woodhouse replied to say he was unsuccessful.
"I have carefully considered your submissions and particular circumstances. I advise that I am not prepared to intervene in your case to grant you residence," the short note stated.
Ever since, he has continued to argue his case with New Zealand authorities.
He discovered that other volunteers from his same village had been given three years' salary to start a new life safely elsewhere in Afghanistan.
And he struggles to understand why he's being treated differently, especially when in September 2011 he was awarded a "certificate of appreciation" by the US Security Force Assistance Team for his "outstanding performance of duty as an interpreter for Task Force Patriot (Bamyan)".
"I am proud I have volunteered in this great and humanitarian mission, though I put myself and my family in serious danger," he says.
Ali has kept in touch with several soldiers he worked alongside with.
One Kiwi soldier remembers him hanging around the Kiwi base when they returned from patrols.
He told the Herald that he recalls Ali as being "very cheeky" but "didn't see any bad in the bloke".
A US Army Lieutenant Colonel also spoken to by the Herald remembers meeting Ali and his mates. They were all "very ambitious" to get jobs with them.
He says Ali was "a good kid" and taken on as an interpreter.
"Most of the US and NZ service members knew the interpreters well enough to develop personal relationships based on missions they'd been on," says Fred Cost who retired as a full Colonel in 2018.
"At some point during , Ali offered to teach me Dari and we used to meet on Sundays after dinner to chat and go over the language."
They have kept in touch and says he's "developed into a respectable man".
Cost says he'd be willing to vouch for Ali to the New Zealand Government.
Other high-ranking US Army officers for Task Force Wolverine-Bamyan who worked alongside the NZDF have also gone into bat for the "volunteer interpreter" who "developed a strong reputation with members of the New Zealand Defence Force, Singapore Armed Forces, Malaysian Armed Forces and the US contingent".
By January this year, Ali was becoming desperate. He approached Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, pleading with her to take up his case.
She passed it on to Associate Minister of Immigration Phil Twyford.
He replied to Ali last month. It wasn't the news he wanted.
"While I acknowledge your current situation, there are many other people with extremely-challenging circumstances who would like to live in New Zealand rather than their current home country," Twyford's office wrote, declining his request for residence.
When approached for comment by the Herald this week, a spokesman for Twyford said: "The Minister does not comment on individual cases."
Now, Ali doesn't know what to do.
He doesn't want his full name reported. He still lives in constant fear that the Taliban will catch up with him.
He suffers nightmares and struggles to sleep.
Going through normal immigration visa procedures isn't a viable financial option.
He's even approached the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to see if they can help his case.
If he had been a contracted NZDF interpreter, rather than a volunteer, he believes his life would be a lot safer.
"Many people in [his] community hate me because they are having the same ideology as the Taliban," Ali says.
"They feel that I have betrayed them because they think I have worked with infidels and I am considered a traitor."
He adds: "If I get killed, the New Zealand Government would be fully responsible for it.
"New Zealand is leaving me to face death."