The family of Colin McCormick, who drowned in Lake Rotoiti earlier this year, have gifted $3000 to the volunteers who worked tirelessly to retrieve his body.

At an intimate gathering on the shores of Lake Rotorua on Thursday, Gavin McCormick, along with his mother Shirley, brother Lance and sister-in-law Lisa, presented Coastguard Rotorua with the cheque.

The family also pledged to make an annual donation to Coastguard Rotorua to ensure "they can keep doing the great work they do".

Gavin said the biggest thing for his family was recognising the amazing job the volunteers did.


"This happened during peak holiday season and these people dropped everything else to come to our aid. These were people who left their own families and gave up their own holiday time to help strangers.

"This donation is a gesture to show our support and recognition of these individuals."

Gavin said some of the donation came from Colin's partner Alison and the sale of their boat, as well as from the McCormick family and Colin's biological mother Jenny Bawden and her daughters Jodie and Kirsty.

"As a family we piece things back together but these volunteers have to go out and do it all again for other families."

Shirley echoed her son's message.

"Some days you would come back to shore so exhausted but you came back the next day - we appreciate you getting Colin back."

Coastguard Rotorua president Barry Grouby said the donation was fantastic.

"We are solely volunteer-based so every bit helps us. There's been some discussion about where this will go, possibly towards some new wet weather gear for our guys, ours has lost all its weather proofing.


"Through winter we have three or four rescues and that can be quite trying because of the weather so this will be a big help."

Mr Grouby said it was also nice to be recognised for what they did.

"It especially means a lot coming from the McCormick family who have been through so much."

There were two more recoveries on Lake Rotorua and Lake Rotoiti following Colin's death.

"This summer has been pretty bad, it's been a busy one for us. All we can do is stress the need for the lakes to be treated with respect and that the same rules apply as when you go out into the ocean."

Colin went missing on January 4 after jumping off his boat to retrieve his hat that had blown away.

His lifejacket came off in the process and drifted out of reach. His partner and 9-year-old son, who were on the boat, did not know how to operate the vessel to get to him.

A gust of wind pushed the boat, quickly moving it further away. His partner tried to throw him a rope but it wouldn't reach. Colin was treading water for a short time before going under.