The family of former SAS soldier Steve Askin, who died fighting the Port Hills fire, have received a very special letter - from a woman who says he saved her life.

The woman was one of about 70 guests at the InterContinental Hotel in Kabul in 2011 when it was taken over by heavily armed Taliban fighters wearing suicide vests.

Askin and seven other SAS soldiers fought for five hours to rescue the guests.

The woman, who has asked not to be named, wrote to the Askin family after hearing of his death in a helicopter crash last month while helping to fight the Port Hills fires.


She wrote to Askin's family about her experience in the hotel that night:

"I had hidden in a cupboard for six hours, and when I heard the insurgents going through the rooms below I realised that there was a high possibility I might not get out alive. I never expected anyone to come in and save us, and no words can express the gratitude that I felt. Steve was a hero," she wrote.

Askin's ear was shot off in the battle that night, but he kept fighting to rescue the guests.

Eleven people were killed by the Taliban gunmen before the battle ended the next morning.

The woman was eventually rescued by a NZ SAS soldier, but in his battle dress she was not sure if it was Askin or one of the others who fought with him.

Askin was later awarded a NZ Gallantry Star for his bravery in the battle.

His father, Paul Askin, said the letter meant a lot to the family.

He said his son had been different after that battle, as knowing he had saved lives gave him a lot of satisfaction.

"After that battle he felt a real sense of completion, that this is what all the training and the years of hard work equipped him to do," he said.

He said it had been hard for the family to see Askin go into dangerous situations as an SAS soldier, but it was something he was good at.

"I always thought if I was a hostage being held somewhere like that I would want boys like him coming to my rescue. Somebody's kid has got to do it," he said.

Steve retired from the army in 2013 to spend more time with his family, and began working as a helicopter pilot.

Paul Askin said the family had been inundated with letters and messages from people who knew Steve.

"We're really proud of our son," he said.

He said Steve's wife, Elizabeth, and children Isabelle, 7, and Bowie, 4, were missing him hugely, but had a lot of support from family and friends.