The father of a Napier boy whose life was saved by a group of brave beachgoers has thanked those responsible for pulling the child from the water.
Joshua McQuoid, 12, was caught by a wave and swept out while playing with friends at the beach on Marine Parade just before 5pm on Sunday.
Beachgoers formed a human chain to pull the stricken child from the powerful waves.
His father Shane McQuoid says Joshua is recovering physically but was still "shaken up" from the experience, which he'd told his dad was like being in a washing machine.
Mr McQuoid told Radio New Zealand he was so thankful to "each and every person" who helped pull Joshua out alive.
"I'm just so thankful for all the people that were there and the police officers, because if they hadn't have gone in our son wouldn't be here today," he said.
"It's just amazing."
An unnamed bystander told police the boys were acting recklessly, "playing chicken" with huge waves that were battering the shoreline.
"It seemed the kids were local and would know how dangerous the sea there is, but that was not stopping them," he wrote in a statement released by police.
When asked if his son was aware of the beach's dangerous undertow, Mr McQuoid said the boys had been down there hundreds of times, throwing rocks in the water, playing on the water's edge.
"Yesterday, obviously, they didn't think about (the dangers)."
Footage caught by a young bystander showed beachgoers, led by a German tourist, and police officers trying frantically to pull the boy from heavy surf but with no success.
Eventually, enough people joined in the rescue to form a 12-strong human chain that broke repeatedly and quickly reformed until Joshua was inched clear of the break.
Unresponsive and floppy, the boy came to only after members of the public gave him first aid on the beach. He was taken to hospital but was later discharged.