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Waihi Beach shark attack victim named as 19-year-old from Hamilton

The woman killed in a shark attack at Waihi Beach yesterday has been named as 19-year-old Kaelah Marlow.

Kaelah Marlow. Source: Supplied

Marlow is originally from Hamilton.

Carol Watts, a friend of Marlow's, told 1 NEWS she's someone you would want by your side.

"She was down to earth and you could just call her up and she would be there straight away," she says.

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The woman’s death has been referred to the coroner. Source: 1 NEWS

She said she was intending to go on the same trip to the beach with Kaelah and friends, but didn't at the last minute because her daughter was sick.

Marlow "cherished the kids like they were her own", Watts says.

She added that the family is "absolutely traumatised" by Marlow's death.

Marlow's death is the result of the first fatal shark attack in the Bay of Plenty in decades.

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A witness told 1 NEWS the conditions at the beach were rough and Marlow was pulled out to sea by a rip before her death.

The challenging conditions made it difficult for rescuers to help her, the waves too rough for them to get to her, the witness said. 

Rescuers attempted CPR at the beach but Marlow died at the scene.

A rāhui has been placed for the stretch of coast between Waihi Beach and Bowentown Heads.

Marlow's death will be referred to the coroner, police say.