Police are seeking information from the public to identify a man involved in a water incident at Omanu Beach today.
About 3.10pm a man, believed to be in his 20s, was found unresponsive in the water and was transferred to Tauranga Hospital by ambulance in a critical condition.
The towel pictured was located nearby and is believed to have belonged to the male.
There were no other possessions with it and police believe it is likely the man lived or was staying nearby and walked to the beach.
Police conducted inquiries with those at the beach after the incident but were unable to establish the man's identity.
Anyone who recognises the towel pictured, or who knows of a person fitting the description who has gone to Omanu Beach at Mount Maunganui and not returned, is asked to contact police on 111 and quote event number P049239934.
Fourteen people have lost their lives in preventable drownings this holiday period.
The "unprecedented" toll, occurring between 4am Christmas Eve and 6am January 5 represents a 180 per cent increase on the five-year average.
Since 2016 there has been an average of five preventable drownings throughout the holiday period.
Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Daniel Gerrard said the horrific loss of life was a tragedy.
"It cuts through every age range, water activity and ethnicity," he said.
"A common theme in these drownings was people underestimating the conditions and overestimating their ability.
"Every preventable death is devastating to a family/whānau and the community."