An attempt to salvage a telephone pole floating in Manukau Harbour nearly cost a man his life on Friday afternoon.
The Hillsborough man fell from his boat during his pole rescue attempt but couldn't get back in, police say.
He had been struggling in the waves for so long by the time emergency services were called at around 2:30pm, Snr Const Mike Moore had to jump in after him to fit him with a rescue tube until backup arrived.
A kayaker also came to the man's rescue, taking it upon himself to help when he saw the situation.
The kayaker helped Mr Moore reassure the struggling man - an effort applauded by police.
"The efforts of the kayaker in assisting in this rescue in such poor conditions must be commended," Air Support Unit supervisor Sergeant Callum Young said.
"It is often expected that emergency services staff will find themselves in challenging situations such as this, but for a member of the public to put themselves at risk in such horrible conditions to help save a stranger is simply outstanding."
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter pulled the man from the water to safety. Mr Moore then swam to shore, towing behind the kayaker.
The Hillsborough man was taken to hospital and treated for hypothermia.
It is unclear whether the telephone pole could be rescued.