The grandmother of an 11-year-old boy who died after he got caught in a rip says the tragedy highlights the need for more children to be taught water skills.
Jahzel Porter of Whangarei died after being caught in the rip along with a 7-year-old boy at the mouth of the Waipu River, about 40km southeast of Whangarei, on January 5.
Jahzel's uncles, who were fishing at the beach, desperately worked to pull the boys from the water.
Once out of the water, a surf lifesaver performed CPR on Jahzel but her attempts were unsuccessful.
The younger boy survived.
Jahzel's grandmother Leanne Jackson said he had never taken proper swimming lessons.
She said she would like to see more children given swimming lessons, and be given skills on how to stay safe at the beach.
"It would be good to see kids who have access to a beach learn surf lifesaving from when they are 5 years old," Ms Jackson said.
"We need to get serious about teaching kids to swim — it is one of the most important things we can teach our children."
Ms Jackson acknowledged the surf lifeguard who tried to save Jahzel's life for doing an "an amazing job".
She and her family visited the woman to say thanks for her efforts on the day of the accident.
"It was really nice for us, she was obviously upset by what had happened as well."
Jahzel's parents, Mihi Porter and David Anderson, said they were "honoured and proud" to have Jahzel as a son. His "beautiful heart and big smile" would be "remembered and cherished always and forever".
Ms Porter said Jahzel was bursting with creativity and loved to draw and build things. He also loved sports and the outdoors and was especially keen on soccer and rugby league.
Ms Porter said Jahzel loved to spend time with his family, and had an older brother and three younger brothers.
He had just finished at Tikipunga Primary School in Whangarei, and was looking forward to starting intermediate school this year.
Jahzel's father also paid tribute to his son, who he called his "angel".
Mr Anderson said he would cherish every bit of time he got to spend with his son.
"I can't accept that you're gone, so I am not saying goodbye, can't wait until we meet again to build a castle in the sky."