A teen powerlifting star, a newly-retired police boat skipper, a photographer, a longtime Takapu Valley resident and a man with a digger came together to save the life of a drowning horse named Heathcliffe.
Photographer Rob Suisted was driving to check stock in Takapu Valley, near Wellington, during Saturday's wild weather when he spotted two people in the flooded Takapu Stream.
Once he got closer he could see a man holding the horse's head above water, he told the Herald.
The man was David "Tex" Houston, a police senior sergeant who retired from the force this week after 30 years, 24 in the Wellington Police Maritime Unit, including the last 18 years as skipper.
The other person was well-known local teenage powerlifter Rachel Duncan, Suisted said.
"It was great having her there."
The hypothermic and panicked horse couldn't move its legs, so Suisted got a strop from his vehicle and put it around the animal's neck, with all three of them rolling the horse over.
"It got swept about three metres. It was kicking and struggling ... the strop around its neck was the only thing keeping it from washing away, but it was also strangling it."
By this stage Steph Woodward, whose family have been longtime residents of the valley, had also arrived to help, Suisted said.
Along with Duncan, she "bravely" got into the water "amongst its legs to help hold the arse while we tried to figure out keeping nostrils out of water while not strangling it", the photographer wrote on Twitter.
"Rachel nearly got swept downstream at one point. We managed to just hold on to [the horse]."
He was also amazed by the efforts of Houston, describing the former cop's efforts in keeping the horse's head above water as "Herculean".
"Horses' heads are impossibly heavy we discovered."
The rescue came to an end about 20 minutes later when Duncan's partner arrived with a digger and, with another strop around the horse's belly, Heathcliffe was pulled to safety.
He was in awe of "our awesome rural community spirit of pulling together", Suisted said, as was Heathcliffe's owner Yvonne Denton.
"The community on the road has been amazing. I can't thank everybody enough. Everyone stepped in," she told the Herald.
"His head was under the water when [Duncan] arrived first on the scene. She jumped the fence and literally pulled his head of the water."
Heathcliffe, now retired after spending many years as a family horse for her now-grown children, was now stabled on a neighbour's property and "doing as well as can be expected".
He'd be badly bruised from the rescue and has water in his lungs, so they need to watch for pneumonia, Denton said.
"He's lovely, he has the most super nature. Hopefully he pulls through and continues his lovely retirement."