The Haumoana community is in shock after a woman drowned at the beach while trying to save children in trouble.
A body was found this morning and while police have not made a formal identification, it is believed to be the woman who disappeared in the waves at about 5pm last night.
The woman was the mother of one of two children who also got into trouble in the water, although the children did manage to make it back to shore.
Local woman Ashley Ormsby said she understood the woman went into the water to help the children.
"We also thought as a mother too, our adrenaline kicks in, our panic, and you're just focussing on saving your child instead of thinking about yourself as well. I'm a mother myself and I would do the same thing."
But she said it was unclear what went wrong.
"It's usually like waist-line when you swim in that bit, but there might be the odd part where it's quite deep. So we're a bit baffled about that as well because we've never known anyone to get stuck in that area.
"[The water] was quite calm, just murky. She was more on the lagoon side, not in the current or anything like that. A lot of us have been swimming over there for more than 50 years and we've never had trouble like that before. But we know that there's slippery rocks underneath and you've got sticks and little snags and everything under there. So we did think that could be a possibility, that she got caught."
Ms Ormsby said she was at the scene last night and provided comfort to the woman's best friend.
"We actually got to meet her best friend that was down there last night, so gave them a bit of a karakia and a healing down there. So I got to know a bit about [the deceased]. They're from Taupō and they travelled down, the [best friend] didn't actually know they were down here until they got a call that someone had drowned at Haumoana from Taupō. So they came out and figured out it was their best friend."
Ms Ormsby has placed a rāhui on the area near the mouth of the river, as a sign of respect.
It restricts fishing and swimming in the area for three days.
"At the moment what we've done is we've put a rāhui up and that's just giving restrictions of fishing and swimming in the area of Tukituki river, which is located from Black Bridge out here going down to the Haumoana mouth. So we're keeping that on for the next three days. I've just put signs around and posted on community Facebook pages to let them know," she said.
"Me and my cousin just put up a little tribute of flowers and that just up at the Haumoana beach. So that's fine to do, just going up there and respecting her hauora really, just her wellbeing in that area."
She said she had been back to the beach this morning, and would be letting people know about the rāhui.