A Tauranga man risked his life to save a teenager who was caught in a rip at Opoutere Beach.
Ana Jordan said her son-in-law Jonny Lovell saw the girl struggling and plunged into the water to rescue her.
"Jonny is not a strong swimmer but he is a very fit 33-year-old, but still went out when he saw the young girl struggling. She went face down twice and would have drowned if not for his quick and courageous action," Ms Jordan said.
Mr Lovell calmed the girl, who was hysterical with fear, but was tiring rapidly and was grateful for the assistance of two surfers who dragged the teenager to shore, she said.
Another two surfers helped Mr Lovell get back to the beach.
Emergency services were not called.