Surf Life Saving New Zealand is devastated by the loss of one of its members, Hamish Rieger, 17.
The Mount Maunganui club member was swept out to sea from Moturiki (Leisure) Island at around 7pm on Saturday night.
He was catching up with some friends after a day on patrol.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand lifesaving manager Allan Mundy says the entire organisation is mourning the loss of a promising young lifeguard who gave so much to the movement and his community.
He was involved in many search and rescue operations, including the search for Jack Dixon, as well as being a keen IRB driver and an extremely dedicated volunteer.
Mr Mundy says the ocean is a beautiful place but it can be so unpredictable at times; even for the strongest swimmers.
"Losing a life is always a tough part of lifesaving, and when it involves one of your own, the tragedy is that much closer to home, he says.
"I'm incredibly proud of the professionalism of the Mount Maunganui club members, and those from neighbouring clubs, who rallied together and pushed on in the search for their friend."
Hamish's parents, Greg and Donna, are long standing members of Surf Life Saving. In a statement made earlier today, they said they really appreciate the efforts of their surf lifesaving friends, the police and everyone involved for bringing their son back to them. "Getting him back means a huge amount to us; now we'd respectfully request space so we can concentrate on supporting each other through this time."
Our thoughts are with Donna, Greg, Oliver, Fergus and Eliza-Jane, along with their wider family and friends, at this heartbreaking time.
Lisa Smith, Media & Communications Specialist,
Phone 09 303 9335 or 0276 488 823