A witness who saw a man die in a shark attack at Muriwai this afternoon said as soon as there was blood in the water, three or four other sharks joined the attack.
The man, who was out fishing, saw the victim swimming around the west coast beach and near Maori Bay. He didn't have any special equipment with him.
The witness told 3 News he saw the distressed swimmer put his hand in the air. But as soon as he did that, a shark attacked him. The blood in the water attracted about three or four more sharks.
It is understood the swimmer was a local and his family have gathered at the scene. People have been seen embracing in the surf club car park and were being escorted into the club.
The attack happened at 1.45pm this afternoon and the body has been pulled from the water.
Police shot the shark, believed to be 12-foot, an unknown number of times. It is not known whether any sharks have died.
Police believe the shark was likely to be a Great White.
Dr Malcolm Francis, a NIWA Principal Scientist who studies sharks, told One News that based on the reports it is likely the attack was by a Great White Shark.
He said there are few other species that grow to 12-foot long - believed to be the length of the Muriwai shark.
He said Great Whites are known in the area and it is likely the shark mistook the person swimming as a seal.
A press conference is to be held at the beach soon.