A waka ama team has been rescued after getting into trouble and off-course in the Papakura channel in the southern Manukau Harbour.

One of three teams that went out paddling earlier this evening failed to return.

The missing crew were located some time later. Only three of the six people in the boat were wearing life jackets.

The Eagle helicopter and the Police Maritime Unit were called to help at 8pm to help with the rescue, along with the Auckland Airport hovercraft, when the crew were about 500m from shore.

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Auckland Metro shift inspector Jason Greenhalgh said the rescue highlighted the importance of water safety and being prepared for rapidly changing conditions.

"It could have been a very different outcome if we hadn't had staff ready to locate them. It's a shame that not all had been wearing life jackets."

The channel is infamous for its strong tidal currents, which have been known to catch boaties unawares when the tides change.

The crew members were assessed at the scene by medical staff.