The policeman who fired shots at a shark in a bid to recover the body of Adam Strange at Muriwai Beach was told "kill it if you have to".
A police source has revealed that three sharks were involved in the fatal attack on Mr Strange.
When rescuers approached, two of the sharks swam away but the third would not let go.
The source said that when the officer got to Muriwai, he was told to do what he had to do to get Mr Strange back to his family, who were on their way to the beach.
"Kill it if you have to ... for the family's sake. Getting the body back is part of the grieving process, it allowed them to be able to see him and not have thoughts in their minds forever about where he ended up. "
"When the cop was firing at the shark, at one stage it reared up out of the water at him ...
"While it was out of the water for those few seconds, the cop was able to put a couple of rounds into the back of its head. Then finally, it let go. It stopped, rolled over onto its back and drifted off. It didn't swim. We are pretty sure it was killed."
How to help
A trust has been set up to cover the cost of Adam Strange's funeral and to provide for his wife and daughter. Donations can be made to the James Bell Accounting Ltd Trust Account at the ANZ Bank, account number 06-0193- 0262946-03, (reference A Strange or Adam) or to the Muriwai lifeguard service through ASB Bank account number 12-3053- 0322971-00, (reference: A Strange).