Video has emerged of the moment a group of children acted quickly to tag and release a shark after it became snagged on the end of their fishing line in shallow waters on a Coromandel beach.
Simon List, who filmed the incident, said he was walking at the northern end of Pauanui with his girlfriend at about 2pm on Tuesday when he came across a boy pulling something in from the shore, with a larger group watching.
"We thought we may as well stick around and see what they pull in, and we were just standing there waiting for about 15 minutes while they tried to haul this thing in," he said.
Mr List said he found the whole thing quite funny at first because the boy pulling it in was wearing a harness, which he admitted he thought was "overkill" at the time.
But that quickly changed when it became clear that whatever it was they were dragging in was of substantial size.
"All of a sudden, people were standing up and a few other people started walking over. And then I saw it was a shark. It would have been two-and-a-half metres," he said.
Mr List said he has owned a bach in Pauanui for 20 years and in that time it was the biggest fish he'd seen and certainly the first shark.
He said he was amazed by the group of kids' composure as they removed the hook from the shark's mouth before taking a quick photo of their catch, rolling it over and pushing it back into the ocean.
"The thing was none of them were freaking out - they were all very matter-of-fact. These kids were absolute legends. I was so in awe," he said.
Mr List said one member of the group ran back to a house and grabbed their tag and release kit, tagging the animal before letting it go.
"They're so young but were really professional - they did it really fast. It was like they were doing their job. They were doing it better than adults could."
The Department of Conservation's marine specialist for the Coromandel congratulated the boys for letting the animal go, saying they did the right thing.
They said sharks are a protected species in New Zealand, so should always be released if caught while fishing.