A toddler is still fighting for his life this morning after he and another child fell off a wharf on a remote island off the coast of Great Barrier yesterday.

A Westpac Rescue Helicopter spokesman said the children, aged 18 months and 3, were rescued from the water by a relative.

A dramatic emergency response involving St John paramedics and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter was launched from Auckland after reports of two children in trouble on Rangiahua Island about 7.45pm.

It is understood they fell into the water off the western side of Great Barrier.


Both were stabilised on Rangiahua before being airlifted in separate helicopters to Starship children's hospital about 9.30pm.

Both rescue choppers landed at Starship about 10.20pm. The young girl was lifted out of the chopper by a man who carried her into the hospital wrapped in clothing and wearing a beanie.

A Starship Hospital spokeswoman said the 3-year-old girl was stable and the 18-month-old boy remained in a critical condition this morning.

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter spokesman was unsure how the children had fallen or whether the relative had been with them when they fell. He was also unsure how long the children were in the water for.

A relative alerted emergency services to the incident and CPR was done on both children, he said.

The 18-month-old boy was put into an induced coma, he said.

The spokesman said the children had no obvious physical injuries.

A St John spokeswoman said intensive care paramedics cared for the children during the rescue flights.

Emergency services responded to the incident from the Auckland Marine Rescue Centre at Mechanics Bay.

A Westpac Rescue Helicopter from Auckland and a Northland Emergency Services Trust (NEST) helicopter from Whangarei attended the incident.

A spokesman at the NEST office said the rescue chopper had attended another incident of a person falling off the Rangiahua Island wharf about a year ago.

A man had been painting his boat when he fell.

A Great Barrier Island resident who has relatives living on Rangiahua said a handful of families lived on the island but numbers fluctuated with the time of year.

In 2014 the Herald reported there were only 15 or so residents on the isolated island.

The incident comes after an appalling run of drownings in New Zealand waters over the summer.

Emergency services were called out to Rangiahua Island. Photo / Daniel Hines
Emergency services were called out to Rangiahua Island. Photo / Daniel Hines

On Sunday Igor Petrenko, 31, and Gena Sibaev, 55, died while free-diving off Great Barrier Island.

A 37-year-old woman died on Monday after a 45-minute dive with her husband near Island Bay, Wellington.

A deadly day on New Zealand waters last month sparked calls for better education to prevent more needless deaths.

Water safety expert Kevin Moran of the University of Auckland has called for more education about the dangers of the water.

"It starts with education, but it's more than just teaching kids to swim ... We have to tell them, 'You're not as good as you think you are or you're not aware of the risks' because the system ... isn't working," Dr Moran said.

A Water Safety spokeswoman said if people did simple things like swimming between the flags and wearing lifejackets while boating, drowning statistics would fall.

In the North Island on February 8, two people drowned and six others were injured in five separate incidents.

In Raglan, Richard Keremeta, 16, died after jumping off a bridge at a popular swimming spot. He was struck by another bridge jumper and disappeared underwater. He was found 10 minutes later.

On the Kaituna River near Okere Falls, north of Rotorua, Devinder Singh Karde, 22, drowned and another person was taken to Rotorua Hospital with serious injuries. the pair, who were of Indian descent, were swimming at Trout Pool with another friend when they got into difficulty.

Seven people drowned during the official Christmas holiday period.