There are claims a great white shark that washed up at an Auckland beach was deliberately pulled out of the water after being caught in a fishing net.

Witnesses told the Herald a group of people repeatedly kicked the juvenile female shark before pulling it onto the beach, effectively leaving it to die.

A woman who contacted the newspaper said a family member was at the scene when the incident happened.

"The shark was purposefully caught in a net by a group of men who caught sight of the [shark] some time earlier," she said.

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"The men proceeded to pull the shark on to the beach - repeatedly kicked it, damaged its jaw and took photos next to the dying [fish] while laughing."

The woman said when her relative tried to intervene, the men intimidated them and tried to prevent them from helping.

She said as a result of that, police were called immediately.

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Another witness reiterated those claims in a post on Facebook, calling the incident as a "pretty sad display" at Orewa Beach.

She said she saw a man pull the shark in after getting it out of a net.

"But then tried to stand over and intimidate anyone trying to save it and asked if anyone had a knife.

"Then after [someone] pulled it into the water, they pulled it back!"

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Police confirmed they received reports that a shark had washed up on the beach shortly after 5pm.

"It had attracted a crowd and one of the reports suggested people had been kicking the shark," a spokeswoman said.

"Police attended, but the shark had already died."

She said the Department of Conservation was also called to the scene.

Great white sharks have been protected in New Zealand waters since April 2007.