The mother of a Whangārei teen shoved off a wharf in Onerahi earlier this week says the wave of generosity her son has received is a sign of an "amazing" community spirit.
Diane Coleman's 16-year-old son was fishing off Onerahi wharf's floating pontoon on Wednesday afternoon when two men approached him and asked to learn how to cast a line.
As the keen angler moved to demonstrate the skill, one of the men shoved him into the water before the pair fled with the $30 that was in his wallet.
Prior to the incident the teen had warily watched the duo repeatedly toss a labradoodle-like puppy off the wharf's gangway and into the water.
He said the men who were drinking at the time, filmed their antics with the poor pooch who they kept with them when they fled.
Coleman said her son, an animal lover keen to study marine biology, was more upset about the puppy than his broken phone, missing money, and slip-on shoes that floated away with the tide.
The awful experience, reported by the Advocate, has been countered by great kindness from Northlanders and those further south.
Coleman said her son had been offered donations towards a new phone and to replace the missing money. As well as offers of a fishing trip or to replace any gear lost when he was pushed into the sea.
"He was as surprised as I was with the response," Coleman said. "We just love Whangārei and New Zealand is an amazing place of support."
The family - which has a beloved puppy of their own - has started a Givealittle page where any money raised, beyond the cost of a new phone will be donated to Donna Doolittle's Animal Rescue and the Ruakākā Dog Rescue.
Although Coleman understood people's anger – something she originally felt – she said she has had time to step back and recognises the men's behaviour is part of a bigger problem.
"I would say to them, what happened to you that put you in a place where you think what you've done is a good idea."
The teen and Coleman have contacted police regarding the incident. Anyone with information is encouraged to report it via calling 105, or reporting at police.govt.nz/105support.