Four women rescued a man from drowning late this morning in the Taruheru River that flows through the centre of Gisborne.
He was found face-down in the water by the women on the eastern side of the Peel Street Bridge at 10.30am.
Two of them jumped in and helped drag the 51-year-old man to the bank.
They called the police and ambulance.
The man was placed on a stretcher, wrapped in an exposure blanket and taken to Gisborne Hospital.
He was in a moderate to serious condition.
Police have praised the women's quick response and say it should be recognised.
"Their actions undoubtedly saved that man's life," said Senior Sergeant Steve Sutherland.
"The first woman who responded was driving across the bridge when she saw what was happening."
She stopped her car, ran down the bank and jumped into the water fully clothed.
"She held the man's head above the chest-deep water and then another woman who was nearby jumped in to help her."
It was mid to high water in the tidal river.
The man took water into his lungs and was admitted to the hospital's intensive care unit for observation overnight.
How he came to be in the water will not be known until police are able to speak to him.
- The Gisborne Herald