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A woman killed by a shark in the waters off New Zealand’s North Island was pulled out by a tear and bobbed in the water for 15 minutes before rescuers could reach her.

Witness Amanda Gould was swimming just five meters from the shark attack victim, at the Bowentown end of Waihī Beach, yesterday before the woman was washed out to sea.

Ms. Gould was swimming up to her waist with her husband and two boys, ages eight and ten, when she saw the victim separate from her group and go out into deep water.

A small group gathers on Waihī Beach after a fatal shark attack on Thursday. (Ricky Wilson / NZ Stuff)

“We were in the water at the same time as the girl and her friends; they were about five meters in front of us, but they kept getting farther and farther away,” Ms Gould told Stuff.

“He got separated from all his friends and wandered far, beyond where the surfers would sit.”

Mrs. Gould was not comfortable in the water due to a severe tear and decided to return to shore.

It was then that the horrors unfolded in front of her.

He calculated that the woman was out there for at least 15 minutes before people realized she needed help.

“You could tell he was struggling because there was no way he was going to get that far,” Ms Gould said.

“No one saw her waving, but I heard a scream.”

Then the lifeguards came to his aid.

Ms. Gould said it took her about five minutes to get the rescue boat to her due to the harsh conditions.

“It was really tough and every time they tried to push the boat out, it kept going in.”

Lifeguards have been brought in from across the region to help after a fatal shark attack. (Ricky Wilson / NZ Stuff)

It wasn’t until they pulled the victim out of the water and onto the shore that Ms. Gould realized what had happened.

“I thought there was another person out there, but the lifeguard said ‘no, that’s a shark, we have to get people out of the water,'” he said.

“So I was watching the shark’s fin spin, not someone else.

“I didn’t see any blood, she was alive and when they got to shore, they started getting CPR right away.”

It was chaos, Ms. Gould said, people were panicking.

“It was shocking, surreal, and we were all a little scared, it keeps playing in my mind,” he said.

“I’m really sad for the girl and I’m sorry for the family. It’s so shocking that someone’s life can be taken away just by that event, one minute she’s swimming and the next she’s retiring and then that happened.”

Shark attack victim ripped out to sea off Waihi Beach prior to rescue attempt (Supplied)

Stuff understands that the victim had bite wounds to at least one of his legs and that the shark involved was a white pointer (great white).

An autopsy, to be carried out today, will provide police with a clearer understanding of what happened, however, the coroner will ultimately determine the cause of death.

The Goulds, who stay at Bowentown Beach Holiday Park, often travel from Tauranga and said Thursday’s tragedy would not end their love for the water.

“I would still swim and I won’t stop the kids from swimming either,” Ms. Gould said.

“I will just be careful with the conditions and I will not go beyond my depth and the boys will not go beyond chest height.”

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This article originally appeared on Stuff and has been republished with permission.


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