The search and rescue operation for a 40-year-old man in the harbour off Kauri Point, north of Katikati, has been called off for the night.
The man is suspected to have drowned after jumping from the wharf while fishing around 2pm this afternoon.
The search will resume on Friday morning.
Katikati senior constable Lindsay Freeman told SunLive a Samoan man jumped off the wharf attempting to retrieve his fishing rod after he thought he had a sting ray on his line.
"He has then got towed so far out [that] he appears to have run out of puff and drowned."
Police, the Waihi Beach Coastguard, and a rescue helicopter searched for the man without success.
Members of the public also used their boats to help.
Kauri Point resident Brendan Thomas said he and a neighbour spent 45 minutes searching on the water after they heard calls for help from the wharf.
“We must have just missed finding the guy,” he said.
Police carried out a search of the shore line with help from volunteers, and the coastguard continued to search on the water.
The police dive squad later joined the operation.
Western Bay of Plenty senior sergeant Glenn Saunders said the basic method of the search was marking a ‘‘splash point’’ - where the man was last seen - and establishing where he could have moved to, considering currents and the tide.
Shortly before dark, Mr Saunders said the man had not been found, and the search would be suspended once it began to get dark.
‘‘We’ll reassess and go again in the morning,’’ he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News