Bowentown Harbour users are calling on authorities to act after a rise in great white shark encounters near where a woman was killed less than a year ago.
Kaelah Marlow, 19, of Hamilton, died after a shark attack off the beach at Bowentown on January 7.
Fishermen, paddle boarders and kayakers in Waihi Beach, Bowentown and Kauri Pt say great white sharks have been active in the past month, with at least eight witnessed breaches and close-up encounters with the endangered predators.
As summer approaches, locals want more warnings to harbour and beach users and to urgently allow research on the animal's behaviour or travel patterns.
It is illegal to disturb a great white shark, which is a protected and endangered species in New Zealand. Great whites can travel 100km a day.
Waihi Beach long-time fishers Tony Gallaugher and Ken Olsen witnessed a 3m great white return twice to breach the water and chomp hooked fish on November 9.
"It was staggering to see its speed and power," said Gallaugher. "They are in such shallow water and there's no signage anywhere.
"We're going to get an influx of people very soon and 99 per cent of them aren't aware."
The pair had contacted the harbourmasters' association and councils pleading for shark warning signage after their own uncomfortably close encounter.
Gallaugher and Olsen were fishing a favourite spot in 5-6m water near Kauri Pt when a bronze whaler sidled up to their 16ft boat.
Half an hour later, a 3m-plus great white launched out of the water a metre away and snatched a fish one of the men had hooked.
"It was horrific seeing the size and hearing the sound. If it had a go at you, you wouldn't stand a chance," said Gallaugher.
"He came up and grabbed the fish we were attached to, both our reels went mad and broke the line."
Olsen said people needed to be aware of the danger.
"People need to be aware particularly if they're out with kids on ski biscuits that there are very big fish around like great whites, and they need to be careful," he said.
The Department of Conservation is yet to permit a scientific research expert in Bowentown Harbour.
Shark researcher Dr Riley Elliot, who identified the species responsible for Marlow's death and who has identified 15 individual great whites in the Bowentown end of Tauranga Harbour in a space of three months, has not been able to undertake research while awaiting a permit.
Elliot undertakes research around the world, using methods to attract and then tag sharks to understand where they are travelling and determine more about their behaviour.
He said he had applied 11 months ago.
According to the DoC website, it should take 20 working days.
"We need to understand more about these sharks to enable us to co-exist. These animals move 100km a day, they could be moving up the whole of the Coromandel."
He was concerned if there was a reluctance to take on the liability of allowing someone to work with the animals: "It is distressing that almost a year since the fatality, I haven't got any closer to be able to give people answers.
"Research is important for informing the public about where these sharks are, it's also critical to ensure the conservation of the species, which has been adversely impacted by fisheries bycatch."
A DoC spokesperson said he was unable to provide any update on Elliott's research permit application.
However, the Government agency did not believe any further action was required to renew advice or warnings to harbour users, beyond what had been released by DoC in January, calling for caution in Tauranga Harbour where at least one great white shark was residing, and probably more.
"While we have had reports of great white sharks in the Bowentown area in the past few weeks, there is nothing significantly different about their presence or behaviour."
Gallaugher is among locals raising this also as a concern, noting the numerous fishing trawler boats working the stretch of coast.
Locals are taking matters into their own hands, planning to post on social media for sightings and contacting Riley regularly with updates. They are also contacting authorities to request signage.
Kauri Point resident and regular paddleboarder Kim Nankivell said he had seen a great white breach 300m away and heard of five people with first-hand sightings.
There was a ski channel 800m off Kauri Point, on Matakana Island side, where numerous shark sightings were being reported.
"DoC should be contacting us that they're aware of this, there's Facebook pages and I'm thinking of reaching out to the community to help Riley," said Nankivell.
DoC called for caution at nearby Tauranga Harbour in January when an Auckland man was left bloodied and suffering minor injuries from a shark that bit his arm at Pāpāmoa Beach.