Ukrainian teen who fled war 'loves' new life in Hamilton

Source: 1News

A teenager who fled Ukraine a month before his 18th birthday has settled in Hamilton, and says it was always his "dream to live in a country like New Zealand".

In Ukraine, there is a blanket ban on men aged 18 to 60 leaving the country, in anticipation that they may be called to fight to defend their country following Russia's invasion in late February.

Dmytro Luvchek left the country with his mother and younger sister just a month before his 18th birthday, and says he loves his new life in Aotearoa.

"It's great weather, even in winter, and I love it. I already have a job."

"People are really nice, and the most surprising thing, when I came at biosecurity control at the airport, when the woman saw the trident on my passport which is a symbol of Ukraine, her first question was, 'how are you?'".

He now watches the war from afar and said that life there was hard before he came to New Zealand.

READ MORE: Shift in war's front seen as grain leaves Ukraine

"Every day you have the anti-air raid sirens and it means that Russian missile is heading to you, and you don't ever know what is the aim for it.

"The very first morning... when everyone woke up with a big bang, and those bangs were all around Ukraine, the first text people received was 'it has begun'."

Luvchek said that, if he hadn't left, he would still be studying, donating money to the Ukrainian armed forces, and "trying not to surrender".

"If the situation was getting worse and worse, yes (he would have had to fight), because I'm 18 now."

To get to New Zealand, they had to get to Krakow in Poland. They flew from there to Helsinki in Finland, Luvchek's first flight. From Finland, they flew to Tokyo and then to Auckland.

He had to leave behind his aunt, his uncle, his step-brother and his father.

But he joins other relatives in New Zealand, including an uncle who has lived in New Zealand for around 20 years, which meant Luvchek, his mother and his sister were eligible for the Special Ukrainian Visa.

"I hope the war will end, Ukraine will become a strong country, and also I would like ask New Zealanders, never forget about Ukraine".