Tributes are flowing for 7-year-old twin Marama Te Pou, who drowned off the coast of Te Awa, Napier.

Two young police constables, who were trained lifesavers, tried desperately to reach the stricken boy on Friday after he got into difficulty as he played in the surf at the Napier beach.

The 27-year-old man and 30-year-old woman entered the water and managed to reach Marama, but were all swept away before being plucked from the water by a rescue helicopter.

Marama, also known as Boombie, could not be revived.

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Despite a huge rescue effort, Marama Te Pou was unable to be saved. Photo / Paul Taylor
Despite a huge rescue effort, Marama Te Pou was unable to be saved. Photo / Paul Taylor

He was the son and paua of Liana Te Pou and Marama Te Waa, much loved brother of Neshaiah and Chaz, Mithias and Autumn, Sapphire and Cedar, Shavaughn and Nathan, Halo and his twin Te Whetu Kotahi.

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A tangi is under way at the Te Aranga Mārae, Flaxmere.

Marewa School, where Marama was a pupil, has postponed its parent-teacher interviews for a week.

Principal Chris Meynell said his thoughts were with Marama's whānau at this difficult time.

Marama Te Pou was snatched by a wave while playing in the surf near Te Awa.
Marama Te Pou was snatched by a wave while playing in the surf near Te Awa.

Tributes on Facebook included former teachers, one of whom wrote:

"Rest In Peace Marama. I will always remember you as the sweet boy with the cheeky smile."

Another local wrote: "This is such heartbreaking news. Rest in paradise Marama, your smile could light up the room. Much love to your lil bro and the whanau."

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Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) said they would like to acknowledge the volunteers and emergency services who attended the scene.

SLSNZ also confirmed the incident happened at a non-lifeguarded beach, outside of patrol hours.

The death will be referred to the coroner and SLSNZ's Coastal Safety Team will work with emergency services to establish the circumstances.