When Holly Tamatea Raki found out her brother Corporal Luke Tamatea had died in Afghanistan, the news was hard to believe.
On August 19, 2012, Tamatea, Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker and Private Richard Harris died instantly when a 20kg roadside improvised device destroyed their Humvee in Afghanistan's northeast Bamiyan Province.
"It seems like only yesterday," Raki said.
"My mum called me and it was almost like a dream because it was the middle of the night. There was a lot of disbelief because he was made for the army so you just wouldn't think that would happen to him.
"To us and maybe to other people, he was invincible so it was hard to believe. It all kind of hit home once we saw it on the news, that's when it became real."
The following weeks and months were a hard and confusing time for Tamatea's whānau but they were helped and guided through the process by No Duff, a registered charity committed to providing immediate support for veterans in need.
In 2018 Raki, based in Kawerau, decided to give back to the charity and organised the first Weight on My Shoulders event, a military-style walk/run which sees participants carry a 25kg pack 14km through Kawerau and surrounding areas, with the proceeds being donated to the charity.
This year, the money raised will go to Tama's Legacy, a trust set up to support his four daughters, Raki's nieces, Kyla, Nikita, Kaytlen and Kiera.
Raki last spoke to her brother on a Skype call, after he had sent money back from Afghanistan to buy his daughters some scooters. His last words to her were: "Don't worry about me, I won't be forgotten. Just promise me you'll always look after my kids."
"We had some help from No Duff after we lost my brother and so the first year I just thought it would be cool to do a walk and try to raise funds and make everyone aware there is help out there for the soldiers.
"They were really helpful, some of the information we got was in army language we didn't understand so they helped with that and just general support, emotional support."
She said this year's event would be the biggest yet.
"I wasn't even going to do it this year because of Covid but here we are. There are four events around New Zealand and even one walk planned in Australia, depending on their situation with Covid.
"I'm quite lost for words, it's overwhelming to see it's not just me and my little community walking, it's the whole country.
"August 19 is when we lost my brother so we always do the event as close to that date as possible and it is quite emotional. At the same time, in a weird way, it's a healing process for me and my family, just having everyone there and remembering him."
Raki said with friends and his siblings, Tamatea was "very army" but his soft side came out whenever he was with his daughters.
"He became this gentle giant which was so nice to see, he loved those girls and this other side would come out every time.
"The girls are doing really great, they are crazy kids, in a good way, they are fantastic children. We are really blessed to have three of them still living here in Kawerau near us and his other daughter not far away in Hamilton."
Weight on my Shoulders 2020 is being held on August 22. For more information go to: www.weightonmyshoulders.co.nz