A member of the New Zealand SAS has died after a training accident in Auckland last night. The trooper was taken by helicopter to Auckland City Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
Local residents have said that at least two helicopters flew low over central Auckland last night, landing in the Domain next to Auckland Hospital. They were met on the main field by an ambulance and then departed after offloading a gurney.
The soldier's whanau have been informed according to an NZDF statement. Police are now investigating on behalf of the Coroner, while the NZDF will hold a Court of Inquiry.
The death comes one day after the launch of New Zealand’s largest military training exercise, involving airmen from the United States, which is expected to last the next two weeks. Operation Southern Katipo is understood to be a counter-terrorism training exercise which will take place in Auckland, Northland and Waiouru.
In a statement released before Southern Katipo began, the NZDF said the public in the areas affected can expect to see military helicopters in the air both day and night, and gunfire activities at the Kaipara Air Weapons Range in Northland.
An NZDF spokesperson said that the aim of Southern Katipo was to "practice counter-terrorism integration techniques between the two countries".
An NZDF 'live fire' exercise in West Melton in March was cancelled in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks. In 2013 a grenade that was used as part of another exercise caused a scrub fire in the same area.
Operation Southern Katipo is scheduled to conclude on May 23.