A man who attempted to resuscitate a fellow surfer at Ōhope Beach says the surfer died doing what he loved.
A man in his 40s died following a "water incident" at Ōhope Beach yesterday, police said.
Emergency services were called to the incident at West End about 1.25pm. The man was pulled from the water and members of the public provided first aid, but the man died at the scene.
Beach Life surf instructor Ross Anderson was running a lesson with a local school when he saw the man go down.
"I had been chatting with him and he took off on a wave," Anderson said.
"I followed along on a wave behind him and then he was face down, pretty much. I flipped the body over, dragged him into the shore and signalled the other school, which is Salt Spray Surf School, and a teacher from Whakatāne High School.
"I started CPR."
Unfortunately, the man could not be resuscitated. Anderson said it was not just him involved in the attempted rescue - it was a "team effort" from everyone at the beach that day.
It was the second time Anderson had been involved in an attempted rescue, the other happened about six years ago. He said he felt for the man's family and sent his deepest condolences.
"It was a tough one.
"I'd say he was a friend, I just knew him from surfing during summer. We all know each other down here.
"To be honest, he went out smiling so I'm pretty happy with that. He was very friendly, very happy and if I was going to go out, I'd want to go out that way - doing something you love with a smile on your face.
"I just want to say condolences to the family and a huge thank you to the support team of Salt Spray Surf School. Once we got him out of the water it really was a team effort, trying to do a recovery."
A police spokeswoman said the death would be referred to the Coroner.
It was the second water incident in the district in as many days.
A 10-year-old girl remains in Whakatāne Hospital after an incident at the Whakatāne Aquatic and Fitness Centre.
A Bay of Plenty District Health Board spokeswoman said the girl was in a stable condition in acute care.
The girl was rescued by aquatic centre staff following the incident on Wednesday night, a Whakatāne District Council spokeswoman said.
A St John spokeswoman said the service was notified of the incident about 4.59pm on Wednesday and one patient was treated on site before being taken to Whakatāne Hospital in a serious condition.