A New Zealander holiday-maker rushed to the aid of a woman being viciously attacked by a shark off the coast of Hawaii.

Christchurch man Andrew Chapman ignored his own safety and frantically paddled towards the stricken swimmer when he heard her screaming for help 100m from where he was surfing on Wednesday.

"We weren't sure what was going on but [I] started paddling towards her.

"We could see she had been badly bitten in the arm, shoulder and upper back. She looked like someone had slit her open with a razor blade in about three places. [There was] a lot of blood."

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Bystanders were left feeling 'shaken' after the mauled woman was pulled from the ocean. Photo / Ineke Chapman
Bystanders were left feeling 'shaken' after the mauled woman was pulled from the ocean. Photo / Ineke Chapman

The 51-year-old woman, a regular swimmer at Mākaha Beach on O'ahu Island, was pulled from the water by surfers and lifeguards.

Chapman, 57, said lifeguards got there just before he reached her and put the severely injured woman on top of a paddleboard. The lifeguards told the surfers to paddle into shore quickly to avoid any further altercation with the shark.

"We were more than happy to follow them in."

Chapman said there was no question about going to assist the woman when she called for help. Swimmers were much more vulnerable than surfers who had a board to protect them, he said.

"How can you not? In the water there is a definite code of looking after others.
"A swimmer on their own seems to be a lot more vulnerable and also will have more limbs in the water acting as bait."

Chapman said the woman was rushed to hospital in a serious, but non-critical, condition. Lifeguards posted shark warning signs and closed the beach to the public.

A surfer called G-No Opfer told local media about five surfers were in the water when he heard the woman, known as "Auntie Lulu", calling for help. He said the lifeguards did a great job "tag teaming it" to help her, using tourniquets to stop the bleeding.

"They were just like a machine. Working good and efficient and I'm proud that they're here watching the beach, proud to know them."

Andrew Chapman surfing in Hawaii. He won't let the incident get in the way of his love for the water. PHOTO/Facebook
Andrew Chapman surfing in Hawaii. He won't let the incident get in the way of his love for the water. PHOTO/Facebook

Another surfer reported that he saw a 3m tiger shark just after the attack.

The surfers and beach-goers were all very shaken up after watching the scary event unfold, Chapman said. A similar attack happened at the same beach six months ago when a 10-year-old boy was savaged by a shark.

But Chapman won't let the latest incident deter him from picking up his board and hitting the waves again. He and his wife are on a two-week surf holiday and plan to get back in the water again.

"You tell yourself it's like assisting at a car accident. You still get back in your car and carry on driving.

"We haven't been in the surf today but will probably go out tomorrow - but in Waikiki where there are thousands of swimmers for the sharks to choose from."

Despite surfing for 40 years Chapman had never experienced an incident like this. Hearing about the frequent shark attacks in Hawaii made him feel fortunate to surf in the chilly waters of New Brighton and Kaikoura, he said."The most alarming things in New Zealand waters are overseas surfers."

Chapman doesn't want this one-off incident to scare anyone from swimming in Hawaii.
"Come to Hawaii yourself to appreciate all the good sides to ocean life. And don't dwell on stuff like this."

Nearly 100 people were victims of unprovoked shark attacks worldwide last year - a new record. Six people were killed by sharks in 2015, including a snorkeler in Hawaii, who suffered severe lacerations after being savaged by an unknown species.