A crab fisherman who drowned at Northland's Ruakaka beach was about to have a baby.
Aucklander Hong Nghe, 38, was swept out to sea at the popular east coast beach on Monday as he tried to recover a crab pot with two others.
One man made it to shore. Beachgoers with boogie boards pulled in the two.
Sergeant Simon Craig said the man's family, including his pregnant wife, were waiting on the beach, as his body was brought in.
CPR attempts on the beach proved unsuccessful.
"It's terribly disappointing and just tragic for the family," Mr Craig said.
"This is a guy with a baby on the way, just had everything in front of him, and for him to lose his life like this, without wearing a life-jacket, is just so tragic."
Sergeant Craig said sea conditions at Ruakaka on Monday evening looked benign, but the beach was notorious for strong undertows.
"Crab fishers should always wear life jackets, and if they're not strong swimmers, stay within their depth," he said.
Sergeant Craig said there had been intensive efforts in recent years to educate Auckland's Asian community about how to fish safely.
He said the message was clearly not reaching the growing numbers who head for Ruakaka every summer for a feed of paddle crabs.