Search and rescue teams will work through the night in an attempt to locate a 9-year-old girl who was swept away near the Hokitika River mouth.

The missing child was whitebaiting on the West Coast before she was swept away.

Police were first called to the area around 9.45am on Thursday after it was reported two people were needing assistance.


An elderly man was pulled from the water earlier today but the girl remains missing, more than 11 hours since emergency services were called.

Coastguard, Land Search and Rescue, Maritime New Zealand, a rescue helicopter and a police search and rescue team had been assisting in the search.

Meanwhile, a whitebater died on the first day of the season last month after a wave swept away a group fishing on the Mataikona River, northwest of Masterton.

A local resident told the Herald the whitebaiter was a 74-year-old man who suffered a heart attack while fishing.

"He was a local who went whitebaiting every year," the resident told the Herald.

Emergency services are currently at the scene of the incident at the Mataikona
River mouth.

Police were called about 2pm after the group of whitebaiters were swept into
the water by a large wave.

They say all of the people returned to the shore, however the one person died following the incident.