Thousands raised to bring woman who drowned saving daughter in Cook Islands home

The family of a Kiwi who died while saving her daughter during a holiday in the Cook Islands have remembered their mother as a "hero".

Mother-of-six Memory Kimiora Peu, 52, was on holiday with her family at Arorangi in the Cook Islands when she got into difficulty while in the lagoon near the Arorangi jetty on Monday afternoon (local time).

Police said the woman was attempting to help her 11-year-old daughter who was being swept out by the current. 

The sea was described as rough at the time of the incident and there was a strong lagoon current.  

A rescue team tried to save Peu but tragically her body was recovered from the ocean around one-and-a-half hours later.

A Givealittle page started by Peu's family has raised over $7000 to bring her body home and help with funeral expenses.

"My mum is a hero," son Brandon Utia wrote. "My mother was a strong, big-hearted, and kind person. She will always put her needs before others, and would do anything to help anyone.

"She was a brave soul and will always make sacrifices for others. And she made the ultimate sacrifice to save my little sister.

"We will continue on her legacy, and we will practice what she taught us. We will love and cherish her memories forever."