The three New Zealand soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan were "professional", "fearless" and "loving", their families say.

The families yesterday released statements that spoke of their grief at the deaths of Corporal Luke Douglas Tamatea, 31, Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, 26, and Private Richard Lee Harris, 21.

They were killed instantly on Sunday when a roadside bomb destroyed their Humvee in northeast Bamiyan Province.

Their deaths bring to 10 the number of New Zealand soldiers who have been killed in Afghanistan.


Corporal Tamatea's family said there were no words to say how sad they were at his death, and it was a difficult time for all who knew him.

"Luke took his job in the army extremely seriously and was very proud of his service. When he went to Banda Aceh in response to the tsunami, he really wanted to be on the first flight in as this meant he could make the most difference in people's lives."

The army turned Corporal Tamatea's life around and the "natural leader" was able to use his skills and experience helping others, his family said.

"We are immensely proud of what Luke has achieved in 31 short years.

"Luke was a consummate professional as a soldier as his accomplishments show, but his proudest achievement is in his family he is leaving behind who will miss him most, particularly his four beautiful daughters who will remain his legacy."

Lance Corporal Baker was nine days away from her 27th birthday.

Her family said she would always be remembered as an amazing daughter, partner, sister, granddaughter, great granddaughter, cousin, niece, friend and soldier.

"Jacinda was a girl full of spirit, always ready for her next adventure. She was fearless and would give anything a go.


"Jacinda was loyal and our rock. She was the one to turn to if you needed someone calm, with practical help to get you through whatever it was you were going through."

Her family said she was proud to be an army medic, and they were "incredibly" proud of her.

"She leaves behind a hole in our family that can never be filled."

Private Harris was his family's "pride and joy", they said.

"He was such a good boy who loved his whanau dearly and loved life.

"Rich was a laid-back, quiet, fun-loving, mischievous guy who would light up the room with his smile."


They said he had a passion for rugby, playing junior boys for Patumahoe, then in the First XV for three years while at Pukekohe High School. "In his free time he liked chilling with the bros."

They spoke of his love for the army and how much he was looking forward to leaving for Afghanistan.

Private Harris' tangi will be held at Piki Te Aroha Marae, Rahiri, Hokianga and he will be buried beside his father in the Hutoia Urupa, Rahiri Settlement.

Prime Minister John Key said a memorial service for the soldiers was likely to be held on Saturday.