The family of a mum who drowned trying to save a child have thanked two strangers who also dived in to help her rescue them.
The body of 35-year-old Taupo woman Amy Jenny Brown was found early this morning by searchers, after she went missing near the Haumoana river mouth late yesterday afternoon.
A family spokesperson said in a statement they were struggling to come to terms with her death.
"Our family has lost a loving mother and faithful friend; A partner, precious daughter, sister and beautiful niece and cousin.
"This is a terrible tragedy that we are struggling to come to terms with. We are however a strong family and with the support of so many, we will get through.
"The family want to thank the many people who have worked so hard and given their time and expertise to help us."
"We are eternally grateful to the two women who dived into the sea to rescue our precious little ones and we would like to acknowledge their bravery and thank the group of people on the beach who supported the family until emergency services arrived.
"We also want to thank the many volunteers who searched for Amy and returned her to us.
"We are at a loss to understand how such a tragic event could happen from a beautiful family day at the beach.
"Our loss is overwhelming, but our appreciation for the efforts of so many people from the Hawke's Bay services and community is heartfelt. Thank you all so much."
Detective Senior Sergeant Martin James said last night it appeared the woman had disappeared while trying to help one of two children with her at the beach.
James confirmed the woman was the mother of "at least one of the children", who were reported to be two girls aged 5 and 8. The children were treated in hospital overnight.
"We understand the woman had two children on [the inlet point]. One got into difficulty, and the woman has gone in to assist the child.
"It appears she has gone under and hasn't come back up."
He said although two children had been taken to hospital in a stable condition, it was thought that only one had been in trouble.
Jess Bennett from Surf Living Saving NZ said Brown's death was a tragic accident.
"While the location isn't coastal and doesn't have a patrol location, local lifeguards are familiar with the area and the risks it poses," she said.