Police in eastern Waikato are praising two 12-year-old boys who saved a drowning man.
The young cousins saw the man raise his arm in the air indicating he was in trouble at Bowentown Beach about 2pm on Saturday, and swam out to him.
Senior Sergeant Rod Carpinter of Waihi Beach police said the man, who was of solid build, lunged at the boys and despite their small stature they managed to help him.
Senior Sergeant Carpinter said the boys' actions were heroic. "I've got no doubt at all that what they did save the life of this man."
One boy swam to shore to raise the alarm before swimming back out to help his cousin pull the man onto land.
"Obviously they were placing themselves at considerable risk by doing this," Senior Sergeant Carpinter said.
Once on the beach, the boys placed the man into the recovery position, assisted by adults including some family members, and CPR was carried out until ambulance staff arrived. The man was taken to Tauranga Hospital in a serious condition.
Police are looking at how they can formally recognise the actions of the boys, who are from Te Aroha and Waihi.