He was dead for 11 minutes.
But after CPR and two shocks from a defibrillator: boom, his heart started beating again.
Bystanders clapped and cheered. Wiremu Shuker was a miracle.
"I died on 15th February and I was born on 15th February. Next year I will be a grey 1-year-old."
Those were words from Shuker yesterday as he met his heroes - the St John paramedics - for the first time since his recovery.
In an emotional reunion, St John lead officer intensive care paramedic intern Shaun Neill looked Shuker in the eye and said: "In eight years in this job, you are the first person I have met who has survived a cardiac arrest."
Paramedic Deanna MacDonald said to get him back was "pretty awesome" and "what we are here for".
"We will not forget you, Wiremu."
Shuker collapsed on February 15 while helping prepare lunch at a tangi at his Ohinemutu home - ironically, for a relative who had died from a heart attack.
Shuker fell and his head hit the floor. His brother called an ambulance immediately and thankfully a cousin, who works as a first responder in Australia, immediately began CPR.
Shuker said a line of people waited behind his cousin to help take over CPR and about three people pitched in before St John paramedics arrived.
Neill said a team of five St John St staff arrived, including MacDonald, Shanyn Ruthye and Kylie Allpress. They prepared the defibrillator and gave him two shocks.
After the second, they noticed he got a pulse and not long after that, he started breathing.
Neill said that was "incredibly rare".
MacDonald said she remembered saying: "Please, Wiremu, hang in there". Then when they got the pulse she heard clapping and cheering behind her.
Shuker's niece, Manita Grant, was one of the bystanders at the tangi and said everyone there couldn't believe what was happening.
"It was such a shock. People say it was a miracle but it literally was a miracle that we have him back."
Shuker said his life was now changed.
"I have a huge awareness about Māori health. Even though we know it, it was a realisation that Māori males are right in the danger zone for heart disease."
Shuker was now more aware of the impact of stress in his life.
"People need to take more care of their head and their mental health and their stress. Things that were important to me before are still important but not as big."
Sleep was another big factor. He now monitored his sleep each night through his watch and felt disappointed in the morning if he hadn't achieved eight hours.
Meeting his heroes was an emotional time.
"I still can't believe how lucky I am. I guess it wasn't my time."
Marae gets defibrillator
A special ceremony was held at Shuker's marae, Tūnohopū, yesterday to hand over a defibrillator, donated by ASB.
The event coincided with Restart a Heart Day, which was aimed at raising awareness about the importance of bystander CPR and defibrillation.
According to St John, every two minutes that goes by without CPR or defibrillation, the chance of survival drops 10-15 per cent. CPR and defibrillation can increase survival by 50 per cent.
St John wants everyone to have the confidence to perform the three steps that can save a life: call 111 for an ambulance, start CPR and use an automated external defibrillator.
About 15 per cent of people survive a cardiac arrest in the community but taking these three steps can double that.
St John this year published its Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Report revealing that in 76 per cent of cardiac arrests, bystanders perform CPR but only use a defibrillator 4 per cent of the time.
St John medical director Dr Tony Smith said the report showed that although there was a growing awareness of the importance of starting CPR, the use of defibrillators and access to them in the community needed to increase.
St John Lakes territory manager Leisa Tocknell said ASB and Phillips had donated 28 defibrillators nationwide. Four had already been donated in Rotorua and another two were to come.