A woman rescued with her two young sons from an overturned boat on Northland's Hokianga Harbour has made an emotional plea for boaties to wear lifejackets, saying they were the family's biggest saviour.
Amber Anderton and her two children, Mason aged six and James, four, clung to the hull of their upturned boat for more than three hours after it capsized while dredging for scallops.
Meanwhile her husband Robert frantically swum the 300 metres to shore to get help.
Seven Sharp reported that Ms Anderton knows just how close she and her two sons came to losing their lives on the Hokianga.
"Mason was talking about dying. I told him 'we are not going to die, son, we are going to be just fine'," she said.
"I couldn't cuddle them. I wanted to hold them. But I couldn't move. I was so paranoid that if I rocked this boat we were going under. So I was like, 'stay still, stay still we're going to be ok'."
With Mr Anderton eventually finding help, the Hokianga Coastguard was soon on the scene.
"We were looking for children in the water, fearing the worst, because we know you don't last long," said Jeff Cramp of the Coastguard.
Ms Anderton and her rescuers are adamant the biggest factor in the family's survival was their lifejackets which kept them warm and gave Robert a fighting chance against the tide.
"What I want to say is I've got family and I've got friends and I know they go out on boats and they go on the water. And I know that some of them don't wear life jackets," Ms Anderton said, her voice breaking as she spoke directly to viewers.
"If I can make one mother, one father, one nana, one person think twice and put a lifejacket on, that's all I want. That's all I want from this.
"Just please, from me to everyone, please wear a lifejacket and keep your kids safe."