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Called into action: lifeguards rescue divers, swimmers

A pair of divers near Tuamotu Island and several swimmers at Wainui Beach were rescued or assisted by surf lifeguards yesterday afternoon and early last night.

Police contacted lifeguards from the Character Roofing emergency callout squad at around 6.45pm after two men using a kayak while diving off Tuamotu Island got into trouble.

“Family members on the shore became alarmed and called 111 when the men were seen to be having trouble making their way back from the island,” squad member Justin Martin said.

“It was a single kayak they were using. One guy was paddling it and the other was hanging on.”

They were caught by the strong offshore winds, gusting up to 46 kilometres an hour, and they were out in 1.4 metres of swell.

“They were going backwards in their efforts to get back to shore and at considerable speed.

“They would eventually have been blown past the island and out to sea,” Mr Martin said.

Rescue squad members Connor Mitchell and Andrew Shelton launched an IRB from Kaiaponi Farms Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club and raced across to help the two men.

“They had them back on shore at Sponge Bay really quickly to their very relieved family members,” said Mr Martin.

The men were checked over by a St John Ambulance crew.

“They were both OK, but the guy who had been paddling the kayak was very tired.

“It was a well done rescue.

“They were lucky, though, that they had family members there who saw what was happening and raised the alarm.”

■ Surf lifeguards at Wainui rescued or assisted four people out of rips at the beach yesterday afternoon.

The most serious incident involved a girl in her teens. She got caught in a feeder current and swept along the beach towards a major rip just south of the surf lifesaving club.

“Riversun Wainui lifeguard Aaron Whitehead grabbed her close to the edge of the big rip and towed her to the shore,” said patrol captain John Minogue.

“The 17-year-old girl was quite shaken up by what happened and was having difficulty breathing.

“We kept an eye on her for over an hour until she was more comfortable.”

Lifeguard Aaron McNaught assisted a man who was caught in a rip opposite Wainui School later in the afternoon.

“We also assisted a couple of body boarders who got into trouble,” Mr Minogue said.

“It was a busy afternoon. The surf was pumping.

“Wainui Beach at the moment has a very powerful and dangerous shore break in places and people need to be careful, particularly with children.”