A SAS soldier who died during a training exercise in Auckland last night fell several storeys after jumping from a helicopter, the Herald understands.

Lance Corporal Nicholas Kahotea was jumping from the helicopter onto a building but missed, falling several storeys to the ground below, a source has told the Herald.

Kahotea was flown to Auckland City Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

In a statement tonight, the Defence Force said: "A police investigation on behalf of the coroner and an NZDF Court of Inquiry are underway to establish the facts of what happened, therefore it would not be appropriate to comment."


In a statement to Facebook this afternoon, Chief of Army Major General John Boswell said Kahotea died during a training exercise.

"It is with regret that I must inform you of the passing of Lance Corporal Nicholas Kahotea, a soldier, father, friend and proud New Zealander," he said.

"Nick passed away last night after sustaining injuries in a NZSOF training activity.

"Nick will be remembered as a professional soldier, but more so as a father and friend to many.

"He was an outstanding soldier and a top bloke."

Police were notified about the incident about 10pm yesterday.

Counties Manukau police Detective Senior Sergeant Malcolm Hassall said they were investigating Kahotea's death on behalf of the Coroner.

Hassall said the "sudden death" involved a member of the New Zealand Defence Force after a training death at Ardmore.


The SAS opened a new $46 million training facility at Ardmore in 2016.

The Ardmore Battle Training Facility is a high-tech building that allows the NZSAS to conduct live firing exercises. Photo / Mike Scott
The Ardmore Battle Training Facility is a high-tech building that allows the NZSAS to conduct live firing exercises. Photo / Mike Scott

The Papakura four-storey "world class" special operations facility is an all-weather, live firing and 360-degree battle training ground that will allow New Zealand's best soldiers to simulate scenario-specific training.

Kahotea joined the Army on January 25, 2006, as a Royal New Zealand Engineer, Boswell said.

He was initially posted to the 1st New Zealand Special Air Service Regiment as a specialist searcher in 2008.

Kahotea successfully completed NZSAS selection and Cycle of Training and was badged as a NZSAS operator in December 2014.

"He saw operational service in Afghanistan, and was awarded NZOSM, NZDSM (RF), NZGSM and Nato ISAF (Afghanistan) medals," Boswell said.

"He was a consummate professional, who was known for his dedication and reliability – always upholding our core values in every endeavour.

"I know that his family, friends and colleagues will be keenly feeling the loss and my thoughts are with them as we remember Nick."

The New Zealand Defence Force offered its deepest sympathy to Kahotea's family and would extend its full support services to them.

The NZDF would hold a Court of Inquiry.

The Defence Force is currently conducting a counter-terrorism exercise with a United States Army Aviation Regiment.

The exercise involves a large number of military personnel, including special forces from both countries.

The two-week training exercise, which was being undertaken with United States forces, is currently suspended.