Two 12-year-old boys are being hailed as heroes after saving the life of a drowning man.
The cousins didn't think twice before jumping into the water at Bowentown near Waihi Beach to save the panicking man, who had been caught in a rip while looking for crabs.
Will White and Sergio Schuler saw him in distress, and say there was no time to be afraid.
“We thought ‘we need to help him’, then we went out and tried to get him to come back in and sort of couldn't so I went back in to get help, says Sergio.
Sergio alerted adults on shore and then swam back to help his cousin.
By then, the Asian man, described as having a large build, was panicking and lunging at the boys to keep himself afloat.
The boys then had to swim back against a rip, while trying to keep the victim calm.
“He would get hit by a wave and go under, and we had to get him back up,” says Will.
When the cousins brought the man ashore he collapsed, threw up and lost consciousness.
The boys rolled him onto his side while they waited for ambulance staff to arrive.
Surf lifesavers are commending the boys' actions, but lifesaving captain Dave Lidden says it's not something everyone should do - Will is a Waihi junior surf club member.
“He knows what to look for, he’s got a bit of understanding about how to bring someone to shore safely and what to do out there,” says Mr Lidden. “It wouldn’t be something I’d encourage someone who didn't know what they were doing, to do.”
But one man will certainly be glad these two boys did. He is now out of Taranga hospital, and texted the boys to thank them.