Mick Fanning's mother "just wanted to grab him through the television screen" when she saw the shark attack, the surfer's Kiwi cousin says.
Australian champion surfer Fanning fought off a shark during the final round of a surfing contest in South Africa.
He described the moment he realised the shark was behind him as terrifying, saying: "I was waiting for the teeth to come at me.
Mark Osborne, who was National's candidate in the recent Northland byelection, said he had contacted his aunty - Fanning's mother, who lives in Australia.
"Obviously it was a pretty close call, and we are all just very, very pleased that Mick has come through it alright. It's pretty frightening stuff," Mr Osborne told the Herald.
"My aunty said...she just wanted to grab him through the television screen because she is not there in South Africa."
Mr Osborne said he and his children normally watched his cousin's competitions, but time differences meant he didn't see the incident live. He had since watched videos of the attack.
"It was very hard to watch, I can tell you...it certainly gave me chills...just to see your cousin fight off a shark, and to see him come out and get on that jetski intact, was, I can tell you, a hell of a relief."
Mr Osborne said his cousin was an incredibly strong person, but judging from the interviews he had seen was shaken from the shark attack.
"It is something that he will need to reflect on. But he is an incredibly strong, mentally strong person to achieve the things that he has.
"Some years ago his brother passed away, and for him to come back from the trauma of that. And his own injury where he ripped his hamstring off the bone, to come back and win a world title straight after that. He is incredibly strong and driven."
Attacker likely a great white
Clinton Duffy, shark scientist with the Department of Conservation, suspected that the shark that went for Fanning was a great white given the location of the attack.
"It was quite likely to have been a great white down there, especially at this time of year, with the colder months. The tigers and the bulls are subtropical whereas the whites range throughout the tropic and the temperate waters."
Bull sharks and tigers were more common in the north, he said.
"Most surfers I know have seen sharks from their boards at one time or another and in South Africa they have the top three most potentially dangerous sharks in the world and they're all relatively common over there, great whites, bull sharks and tiger sharks."
People are in a "fight for their life situation" when confronted by a shark and punching them was as good a way as any to get free, he said.
"You do anything you think you can to deter the shark, punching often helps, you're putting up a fight you're not making yourself an easy meal."
Memories still raw
Shark attack survivor Darren Mills said news of Fanning's attack had brought back memories of his own encounter.
"It's still definitely still fresh and you definitely get more intrigued about sharks now."
Mr Mills, a Queenstown air-conditioning and refrigeration engineer, hasn't been back in the water since he was attacked by a great white off the South Island's Catlins coast in February last year.
The British immigrant was now back to full health after the attack but has vowed he wouldn't get in the South Island's waters.
After the incident the Department of Conservation took his board away for testing and estimated that it was a 3.5m to 3.6m great white that attacked him.
Mr Mills, 30, was laying on his surf board when the shark came up to its side and bit straight through both the board and his leg.
"I didn't see it until it was biting me and then I was like, punching it, it was a bit strange. It was just instinct I think, to try and get it off you sort of thing.
"I still remember holding its nose, I reckon about for about three to four seconds but it felt a lot longer than that. It bit my surfboard and my leg at the same time. The bottom jaw went into my surfboard and the top jaw into the back of my leg cos I was laying down."
The shark eventually let go once it realised it was getting a beating, he said. He managed to paddle to the shore to safety.
"It just let go, I think it just realised that I wasn't food and it probably wasn't normal for itself to be getting hit."