The man who drowned at a Far North beach was trying to save his children after they were swept out to sea by a rip.

The 54-year-old from Palmerston North was pulled to shore by beachgoers but could not be resuscitated.

An 11-year-old girl, understood to be his daughter, was rescued by a man on a paddleboard and flown to Whangarei Hospital. She was unconscious and in a serious condition when pulled from the water.

Rescuers included a local cop, Senior Constable Tim Murdock from Mangonui station, who jumped into the water in his uniform.

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Four more children were rescued and treated at the scene. They did not need hospital treatment.

The drowning occurred at the normally sheltered Cable Bay, near Mangonui in Doubtless Bay, just after 4pm on Tuesday.

The children, all siblings or cousins, were caught in a rip at the western end of the beach.
The father called for help then tried to rescue them before getting into trouble himself.

He was unresponsive when a member of the public managed to get him to shore.

Mangonui firefighters and St John medics performed CPR for more than 30 minutes to no avail.

At least half a dozen people were involved in the rescue.

Mr Murdock said Cable Bay was not usually regarded as dangerous but on Tuesday the water was choppy with a strong onshore wind and a rip running at the western end.

He was due to meet some of the rescuers today to collect witness statements and thank them for their efforts.

The 11-year-old girl is now in a serious but stable condition at Whangarei Hospital.

The deceased's name has not been releeased.

-Northern Advocate