Water Safety New Zealand says it's a no-brainer that five people who were rescued from a capsized boat should have been wearing lifejackets.
The group, including children, were plucked from the water by volunteer firefighters just north of Hokianga.
Fire and Emergency was notified by the police at 9.40pm that the group was in trouble in the middle of Whangape Harbour.
A rescue helicopter was called in but the Ahipara volunteer fire brigade, which is about 30 kilometres north of the harbour, got there first with a inflatable rescue boat.
They managed to bring all five people back to shore safely.
Jonty Mills from Water Safety New Zealand said he was glad it had been a good outcome this time but things could have been different.
"At the same time, [we] consider them very lucky," he said.
"We know from the research that you're far more likely to survive if you end up in the water with a lifejacket than without one on."
Mr Mills said often boats do have lifejackets on board but passengers did not wear them.
"The message again is very clear that they're very hard to access and put on once a boat is flipped so we really encourage everyone to be wearing them while they're out on the water," he said.