A teenage hero who saved three children from drowning after a car crash that killed their father was welcomed to the dead man's tangi by his grieving family.
Andrew Field was hailed a hero after stopping at a car crash at the Otututu river near Greymouth this month after spotting debris strewn across the road.
After seeing an overturned car in the river, which appeared to have crashed through barriers, the 17-year-old called emergency services before plunging into the icy water to save three children who had miraculously survived the crash.
Realising the driver, Tamati James Rae, had died, and that the children in the back were calling for help, Field smashed a window with a rock and carried the children to safety.
Farmer Ryan Davy took the three children home to warm them up while waiting for ambulances.
Field, a diesel mechanic apprentice who left school at 16, has shrugged off widespread admiration for his heroics.
"Well yeah, I came back to work and everyone was like congratulations and good stuff," he said.
"As soon as I got back to my place my phone was just going mad. I've had heaps of people Facebook me.
"I guess it's something to be proud of."
Rae's family immediately got in touch with him and invited him to Rae's tangi in Kaikoura, which Field was grateful to be able to attend.
"I got lots of hugs," he said.
"They were really grateful. Sort of the reason I went up there [was] to know that they were all good."
Field said he would never forget the night, nor would he have forgiven himself if he hadn't stopped.
"If I had driven off then later found out there was three children in there and they had all drowned...I would feel like s***," he said.
He bluntly offered some advice for others who might find themselves in a position to help someone.
"Just do it. If you stand back and wait and worry about the water... I guess don't be a p***y. Worry about it later."
Rae's family declined to comment, but online many publicly thanked Field for his efforts.
"We can never ever thank you enough. If you ever need anything at all, big or small, you have the entire whanau at your call," one family member posted on social media.
A police spokeswoman said the serious crash unit was still investigating.
She said it was too early to speculate whether Field might receive an award for his bravery.
Civilian awards such as a certificate of appreciation can be given at a district level, but nominations for top level awards were also open for instances of bravery, courage, and rescues.
People could be nominated within their district and nominations were forwarded to police national headquarters for consideration for the Police Commissioner's Honours or the Awards Advisory Committee, the spokeswoman said.
The police commissioner could also recommend the nomination be elevated to the Royal Humane Society or the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet who consider the New Zealand Bravery Awards.
Past recipients of that award include Georgina Langford, who struggled with a gunman to save a family member in 2011, and Dunedin man Christopher Foot, who confronted gunman Edward Livingston and tried to save Livingston's children, who were shot dead.