The family of two children who almost drowned after falling from a wharf have praised the quick actions of emergency services, including a local nurse who travelled by boat in the dark to help.

An 18-month-old remained in an induced coma in Starship Hospital last night after he and his 3-year-old sister were pulled from the water near their home at remote Rangiahua Island, off Great Barrier Island, late on Friday.

A family member found the children in the sea, rescued them, and began CPR, before Auckland's Westpac Rescue Helicopter and St John paramedics arrived from Auckland to stabilise the kids and fly them to hospital.

Grandfather Matt Ngawaka, who spent yesterday waiting for updates from his son, said he was extremely grateful to everyone and was hopeful both children would make a full recovery.


The 3-year-old was due to be discharged last night and doctors were happy with the 18-month-old's progress despite his critical condition, he said.

"It felt good to hear that. It will be even better when [he] comes out of his coma," he said.

"We would like to thank the ambulance service and the Westpac helicopter crew, those guys are brilliant, especially at night."

He also wanted to thank a local nurse who travelled from the Great Barrier Island to Rangiahua in a little tinny boat in the dark to assist the medical crew.

Ngawaka called his grandchildren "adventurous" and "playful" but didn't want to discuss what happened. "At the moment we are just focusing on getting them better."

The Ngawaka family, who are crayfishers, have lived on Rangiahua for "generations".

There are just three or four houses on the island, west of Great Barrier Island near Port Fitzroy, and all travel is by boat.

Those who know the whanau say they were shocked the children ended up in the water, as their parents were "extremely careful" and have a good knowledge of water safety.

The children's aunt, Bianca Ngawaka, said her family, who moved to the island when she was a baby, had never had a water accident before.