Givealittle set up for family of Emily Branje swept away while whitebaiting

A Givealittle has been set up to support the family of nine-year-old Emily Branje, who was swept away in the Hokitika River on Thursday.

Emily had been spending the school holidays with extended family when she was washed into the water at the river mouth while whitebaiting. A 69-year-old man was recovered from the water but attempts to rescue Emily failed.

Her body was found on Saturday morning near the mouth of the Grey River near Cobden, on the West Coast.

Emily's family released a statement on Friday saying they're struggling to come to terms with what has happened.

"We are in shock and grief after receiving the news yesterday about our precious only child, Emily," they said in a statement.

Now a friend of the family has set up an online fundraiser to help them during this difficult time.

"This fund has been set up in response to people reaching out and wanting to support the family with the initial and ongoing period after Emily's passing," the Givealittle page reads.

"Emily was vibrant, so very talented with the most contagious personality, she always made those around her laugh. She was a passionate and talented highland dancer and fencer and committed to the environment, a keen speedway fan and went on many 4WD trips.

"These funds will go supporting Emily's family through the initial period of grief and to preserve her memory."