A young man who died trying to jump from a light pole into a Gisborne swimming pool had spent the afternoon playing football and enjoying a few drinks with friends.
The 20-year-old had been at his friend's family home in Lytton West when he attempted the fatal jump from a tennis court light pole.
"My wife and I were here until just before the incident actually happened," the property owner, who did not want to be identified, said.
"There were about 20 of them just having a few pre-drinks before going to Rhythm & Vines. They were my son's friends.
"They had been here for a couple of hours. They were actually just sitting around the barbecue table outside by the side of the pool. They had gone out and had a kick around with the ball a couple of times on the tennis court," he said.
The group had been well-behaved and were looking forward to the festival.
"They weren't out of control or anything like that. They were just getting ready to leave when we left. We wished them Happy New Year and we went out.
"The boy climbed the pole which is about 10 metres high and tried to jump into the pool and landed on the edge," he said.
"It's terrible. A terrible accident."
An ambulance spokesman said staff were alerted to the incident just after 8.30pm.
The man was in a critical condition when paramedics arrived at the home.
They spent 40 minutes working on him before taking him to Gisborne Hospital, where he died shortly after arrival, the spokesman said.
The death has been been referred to the coroner.