The nephew of a man who died in a boating tragedy on Auckland's Manukau Harbour has thanked nearby boaties for their "heroic actions" in recovering his body.
Three men died and a fourth, aged 23, was airlifted to hospital after their vessel capsized near Manukau Heads and the notoriously dangerous bar on Saturday afternoon.
The three men were aged 54, 61 and 70, police confirmed.
It's understood local boaties were first to respond and bring the bodies back to shore, before police and a number of emergency services attended.
"One of those victims was my uncle," one man has posted on social media.
"The family and their friends are wanting to express how grateful and thankful we are for the people and Coastguard that attempted to rescue them and retrieved their bodies.
"It couldn't have been easy, and we are sure it would've been very traumatic sight for you to see also. Thank you very much for your heroic actions and putting yourself at risk so that all our families have their bodies to say goodbye to.
"Please if you know of these boaties, please give them a hug on behalf of my aunty. It has been a really tough couple of days for every family involved but we are thankful that their bodies weren't left at sea to disappear."
The man said the family had "no words" to express their thanks to a community "of such caring people".
Coastguard said in excess of 200 boats reported crossing the bar on Saturday, but the vessel that capsized did not report a crossing.
It's unclear what caused the boat to overturn. Wreckage from the vessel has not been recovered.
An inquiry into how the boat came into trouble has been launched by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC). Two investigators are in Auckland today hoping to speak to witnesses, and scour videos or photos from the incident.
Police are investigating, alongside Maritime New Zealand, on behalf of the coroner.
"Police extend their sympathies to the family and friends of the victims at this incredibly difficult time," they said in a statement yesterday.
Police, along with the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, Maritime NZ, Surf Life Saving NZ, Coastguard and St John Ambulance responded to the incident.