Police have praised an Auckland kayaker who went to the rescue of a struggling Hillsborough man in harbour waters and a police officer trying to save him.

Police released an image of the moment the man was rescued yesterday.

Police were called to Manukau Harbour at 2.30pm after a man fell from his dinghy, life jacket-less, while trying to salvage a floating telephone pole.

The Eagle helicopter was sent, and Senior Constable Mike Moore opted to get into the water to give the man a rescue tube until a full water rescue could happen.

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In the meantime, a kayaker saw the scene unfold and launched into the harbour to help.

The Westpac rescue helicopter arrived shortly after and the struggling man was winched from the water. He was subsequently taken to hospital for treatment of hypothermia.

A man was rescued from the Manukau Harbour this afternoon. Image / Google Maps
A man was rescued from the Manukau Harbour this afternoon. Image / Google Maps

Senior Constable Moore swam to shore with the help of the kayaker.

"The efforts of the kayaker in assisting this rescue in such poor conditions must be commended," Air Support Unit supervisor Sergeant Callum Young said.

"It is often expected that emergency services staff will find themselves in challenging situations such as this but for a member of the public to put themselves at risk in such horrible conditions to help save a stranger is simply outstanding."

A Coastguard spokesman told the Herald the man had somehow fallen out of his dinghy.

It was estimated he had been in the water for about 40 minutes before he was rescued.