One person has died following a water-related incident at Whakatāne Heads.

Emergency services were called shortly after 2pm to a person who had been pulled from the water in a critical condition.

Medical attention was administered but the person died at the scene.

Earlier people were seen desperately trying to resuscitate the person.

Whakatane water rescue.

The person could be seen lying near the water's edge at the mouth of the Whakatāne River.

About 10 people were gathered around the person who was lying on the sand on the Coastlands side of the river mouth, just metres from Whakatāne's famous statue of Wairaka.

Emergency services at Whakatāne River. Photo / Supplied
Emergency services at Whakatāne River. Photo / Supplied

A reporter at the scene said a Coastguard vessel was ferrying people and equipment over to the person while an ambulance and other emergency vehicles were waiting at the boat ramp.

She said there were a large number of people watching the ordeal unfold from the playground and the opposite side of the river.

A helicopter landed next to the man and at least two people were doing CPR, she said.

A visibly upset woman was also seen being comforted by people on the opposite side of the river.

A Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokesman confirmed they had been called to the incident. He referred further questions to St John. St John referred questions to the police who have since confirmed the death.

Coastguard was also at the scene.


A spokesman for the Whakatāne Coastguard said a member of the public raised the alarm, running into the office just after 2pm.

A man had been seen floating in the water of the Whakatāne River, he said.

He said the Coastguard then called the emergency services.