Four people have been taken to hospital after six swimmers were rescued at Cable Bay in the Far North today.

In a statement, police said they were called to the beach 30km east of Kaitāia just before noon when “a small number of people” got into trouble in the water.

“It appears one person initially got into trouble in the water, then five others have joined in an attempt to help them,” a police spokesperson said.

St John ambulance said it sent one first response unit, three ambulances, and one helicopter to the incident.

“Four patients — one in serious condition and three in moderate condition — were taken to Kaitaia Hospital via two ambulances while two patients in minor condition were treated at the scene,” a spokesperson said.

Cable Bay is one of the Northland beaches involved in Operation Floatation — an initiative supported by Surf Life Saving New Zealand that aims to make public rescue equipment (PRE) such as rescue tubes more widely available for public use at dangerous and un-patrolled beaches.

The safety initiative was spearheaded by Cable Bay local Pat Millar following the drowning of Wairongoa “Magoo” Renata, who died saving his children at Cable Bay in 2018.

In the past year, Northland has had a dramatic drop in the number of drownings.

The region’s provisional drowning toll of four is an almost 80% decrease from the 18 deaths recorded a year earlier.

Nationally, last year’s provisional drowning toll was 90, slightly down on the 94 recorded in 2022 but still higher than the 10-year average of 82.