Emergency services worked frantically on a child rescued from the Firth of Thames in a tragic kayaking incident
Two children were rescued from the water with a man, believed to be their father, after their kayak capsized near Kaiaua yesterday afternoon.
One of the children later died in Starship Hospital. The other child is in a serious condition, while a man was in a moderate condition.
A Kaiaua local said she and her son saw an plane circling for a while, sparking their attention, so they walked down to the beach.
The plane had just landed and two other Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopters were also there, along with one of two Coastguard boats.
"We saw the aeroplane circling for a bit and we all kind of wondered what was going on so we went down to the beach ... we got there and they just landed and there was one Coastguard boat there already and then the second one came in."
The children had already been brought to shore.
"We didn't see the kids come in but we saw them working on one of the kids on the grass verge by the ocean.
"I could only see one and he looked quite little ... I was far away but he just looked very small and they were pumping on his chest quite heavily."
The helicopters had landed by the boat club with one taking off as soon as they arrived there, she said.
"One of the helicopters took off ... straight away and then the other one took off in a bit, about another 5 or 10 minutes after that."
That's when a man, wrapped in a thermal emergency blanket, came in on the Coastguard's boat before being carried to shore by several Kaiaua locals.
The young mother said it had been "a beautiful day" and didn't think it was too choppy to be out on the water.
"It was choppy but I'm not sure that I would say 'don't go out in a kayak'. From what I understand they had lifejackets on."
She said it was a horrible end to the school holidays.
"It's absolutely awful."
A police spokesperson today earlier confirmed one person had died.
Police were called to three people in the water near Miranda about 3.30pm yesterday after the kayak capsized off the coast.
"At around 5pm two children were flown to Starship Hospital in Auckland, where one of them has since died.
"Inquiries are ongoing into the circumstances of the incident."
A spokesman for the Auckland Westpac Rescue helicopter said the Coastguard first spotted the group and grabbed them out of the water.
"One boy was in a critical condition, a girl was in a serious condition and an adult male was in a moderate condition."
The man was transported to hospital by road ambulance.
The Kaiaua Volunteer Rural Fire Force was also called to the scene.
One Kaiaua resident watched the incident unfold in the water. Two helicopters arrived at the scene, along with the Coastguard and a Cessna.
Residents watched as the Coastguard brought in the kayak and although they knew children were involved, they were unsure if either had died.
"We could see part of it, people were looking out the window at it, but we've heard so many stories."
The man said the day started off nice, however conditions slowly deteriorated and by the time of the rescue, the wind had picked up.
"It wasn't very nice, no. It was earlier but the wind was up at that stage. It wasn't overly choppy, you could go out in a fairly good boat but you wouldn't go out in a small boat [or kayak].
"And it cooled right off, it got really cold in the afternoon about that time, too."
He was unsure if the group were locals.
Fire and Emergency NZ shift manager Dallas Ramsey said firefighters assisted rescue helicopter staff at the scene.
The child's death brings the country's total number of drownings for the year to 38, according to Water Safety NZ statistics.