Eight months after Russia declared war on Ukraine, there is still heavy fighting in much of the country. Kiwi photojournalist Tom Mutch met New Zealanders helping on the frontline.
Two months into the Ukraine war, Christchurch geneticist Andrew Bagshaw was in between jobs and watching the conflict on TV.
"I thought to myself, these people are going through hell, and I'm here not being able to do anything."
So the 47-year-old bought a one-way ticket to Poland and arrived in Ukraine in April.
He is one of the volunteer drivers working mostly in the Donbas region evacuating civilians from under heavy shellfire. He is just one of many Kiwis working on the ground in Ukraine, in various capacities - delivering aid, evacuating civilians and helping remove mines and explosive debris from Ukrainian cities.
His experience has not been without some close shaves.
He recalls driving in the Donbas region, when they had to abandon their car on the side of the road because it broke down.
After finding alternative transport, they returned the next day to retrieve the vehicle.
"But a shell had landed right next to it overnight, and the whole car had been ripped apart, the windscreen was all smashed up and the tyres were shredded."
Had he and his team stayed with the car, they would have been torn apart.
But Bagshaw insists the danger is worth it.
"There was a period several months ago when President Zelenskyy ordered the evacuation of the whole Donetsk province [within Donbas].
"So, everyone wanted to leave, and we managed to drive around 700 [people] to safety in about two and a half weeks."
Bagshaw and I share a similar background, having both been to Cobham Intermediate and Burnside High School. But we met in Ukraine.
'The scale was overwhelming'
The roads of Kharkiv Oblast are littered with abandoned armoured vehicles, tanks and anti-aircraft guns, the detritus of the fleeing Russian army. Last month they were routed by a surprise Ukrainian counter-offensive that liberated thousands of miles of territory in the east of the country, shocking the Russians and the wider world.
Most observers, myself included, had predicted a stalemate in the war, and the Ukrainians once again proved their doubters wrong. While the war has begun to slip from the headlines, there is still heavy fighting in much of the country, causing untold damage and harm to civilians.
While Ukrainians were initially jubilant about their victories in Kharkiv, this quickly turned to disgust once they discovered what had been happening there under Russian occupation.
They soon uncovered terrible sights similar to those seen in the Kyiv region towns of Bucha and Irpin at the start of the war. In the town of Izium, a crucial logistics hub for the region, Ukrainian investigators uncovered torture chambers, mass graves and evidence of widescale looting and killing of civilians.
The sights were "absolutely horrific", says Tenby Powell, the former mayor of Tauranga, who has been working for nearly six months in Ukraine delivering humanitarian supplies.
As soon as they entered the town a few weekends ago, they heard stories from the locals about what had happened to them under the Russian occupation. The people were being beaten in police stations where the Russians had made their torture chambers.
Worst of all, a mass burial site was found just outside the town, with the decomposing remains of more than 400 people killed during the Russian invasion and occupation.
When they went to the mass graves, the first thing they noticed was the smell. As the Russians had dumped many of the bodies killed in the fighting without preparing them, many had decomposed and were barely recognisable. Authorities are still struggling to identify them.
"As we walked around the burial site, everyone was deathly quiet, not a word was said, and tears were privately shed," Powell wrote on Facebook. "The scale was overwhelming."
The smell of death is the worst part of visiting these areas. It hits you in waves, it clings to your clothes, hair and it doesn't come out for days. Shortly after the war started, Powell set up KiwiKare to deliver food, medicine and other essential supplies to the most war-ravaged parts of the country and has raised around $152,000 to do so.
Powell, 62, and his crew have been all over Ukraine, to the southern frontlines in the Mykolaiv region, to the far east of the artillery war in the Donbas region and are now mostly working in the liberated territories of Kharkiv.
"Kiwis bring a can-do attitude to any jobs, not complaining, and looking for ways around any obstacles."
He explains: "I have both a business and a military background, and so I felt I had the right skill set to be of real help here".
Powell intends to continue volunteering into the foreseeable future.
"I realised very soon after being in Ukraine that this would be an effort that would need a timescale of years not months. Even if the war stopped tomorrow, we'd need to be here for at least two years," he says, such is the damage that has been done.
He's well aware of the danger that comes with the job - recently, a Russian rocket strike hit a humanitarian convoy in the Zaporizhzhia region, killing 30 people.
His wife and two children, 24 and 22, are in New Zealand.
"My family were pretty taken aback; I originally came to Poland to do strategic fundraising. Ukraine wasn't the plan. But they've been hugely supportive, I know no other way and they know that."
But, he says "there are times where you're lying in bed at 3am and you hear the sirens go off and hear booms around you and wonder what the f*** you're doing here".
The indiscriminate strikes weigh on everyone who works here, but he has no intention of giving up. "As the Ukrainian northern offensive continues ahead of winter, so too will the need to supply humanitarian aid into newly liberated areas."
Picking up the pieces
Even before the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in February began, the eastern parts of Ukraine were some of the most heavily land mine-contaminated regions in the world.
One Kiwi knows better than most just how much damage Russia's aggression against Ukraine has been doing since 2014.
Anthony Connell, 65, a former New Zealand army soldier from Christchurch, has been working in Ukraine since 2016, helping run de-mining operations in the Donbas region.
He finished his career with the Army in 1999 and started working as a de-miner in Iraq shortly afterwards. Since then, he's worked in Syria, Angola and other post-conflict zones around the world, before moving to Ukraine.
He was at home in New Zealand when the war started and returned to continue his work shortly after. He is now based in the northern city of Chernihiv near Kyiv, which Russian soldiers besieged in the first months of the war. He is the director of NGO Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD), which specialises in clearing explosive debris and mines from areas that suffered conflict.
"Because the Russians weren't there for long, they didn't get around to laying many mines,"; he said, "so it is not like we can point to an area and say, in this 75 metres by 75-metre area there are a hundred mines".
Instead, the job is much more complicated.
"The whole area that has been liberated is affected by unexploded ordinance. This can be ammunition that has been abandoned or missiles and rockets that have fired but for whatever reason did not explode."
These can linger and remain dangerous for decades afterwards, and civilians in Ukraine have been killed by unexploded munitions every year since the Donbas conflict began. Civilians are still sometimes killed in Vietnam and Cambodia from munitions left behind after the Vietnam War in the 1960s.
Although his job is now administration, rather than removing ordinances in the field, he is still in a region well within reach of Russian missiles from just over the border. Connell, who visits his wife and children in New Zealand every three months or so, originally said he wasn't worried about the safety aspects of being in Ukraine.
"Honestly, I feel safer walking the streets of Ukrainian cities at night than I do in some parts of Christchurch. If it weren't for the occasional air raid sirens, life would continue completely normally."
But this Monday, a Russian missile struck just a few hundred metres from him in Kyiv. He accepts the danger, saying "you can't let it rule your life. If it is going to happen, it's going to happen."
He worries about the lack of attention the war is getting now, including in New Zealand. "Back at the start, it would be top of the news every day. But now, people are starting to get a bit of war fatigue.
"I can't believe that some people back home still believe Russia's lies. People should understand what is going on here, a young country fighting for its survival. It's a real David and Goliath story."
Meanwhile, the war in the Donbas continues. After its defeats in Kyiv and Kharkiv, Moscow announced it would switch its war aims from the takeover of all of Ukraine to the "liberation" of the supposed pro-Russian oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk. But what they call liberation looks to anyone outside like cold-blooded murder.
The Russians have pounded towns like Severodonetsk, Mariupol and Bakhmut with thousands of rounds of heavy artillery. They have used indiscriminate cluster munitions on civilian areas, causing huge collateral damage.
Bagshaw is scathing, however, of many of the major aid organisations. "You barely see anyone from the [big charities] out on the ground, where they are needed. It is mostly all done by volunteers, either foreigners like me or Ukrainians.
"They've been mostly useless here."
Despite the huge sums of money donated to foreign aid groups ostensibly to help Ukraine, he claims a large percentage of their money goes into overheads.
"It doesn't get to the ground where it is needed. They are mostly in Kyiv and Lviv. Sometimes you see them go to safe areas that are de-occupied, like Izium, but you don't see them in the really bad areas like the cities of Soledar and Bakhmut in Donbas."
He intends to stay until the end - or, as the Ukrainians say, "until the victory".
"I find it rewarding to extract people from dangerous areas and taking aid in as well. For a long time in Donbas, it was just people with vans and taking people from Siversk and Soledar. There are still people being killed out here every day, but that doesn't make the news."
While the Ukrainian army has been making major strides to recapture occupied territory, the Kremlin has been lashing out. On Monday, it launched nearly 100 missiles into peaceful civilian cities in Ukraine, including the capital, Kyiv. Despite the danger, all the Kiwis I know here, myself included, plan to stick it out with Ukraine until the end.