A seven-year-old boy and his uncle have drowned while trying to rescue a relative at a beach near Wairoa.
Police say emergency services were called to Iwitea, about 20km north of Wairoa, just before 1pm on Monday.
The Auckland boy and his Wairoa uncle were part of a family group preparing for a wedding.
Family members say the boy and the 22-year-old man had gone into the water to rescue a girl swept out to sea by a wave.
The girl managed to make it back to shore, but the two others got into difficulty. The bodies have been recovered.
Police say the news has devastated the family.
They are handing over the results of their completed investigation to the Coroner.