Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been talking to some of those who rescued survivors from Whakaari/White Island.
Four helicopters went to the island and survivors were evacuated by boat.
Two private helicopters were able to land and rescue survivors along with a volcanic air helicopter. There was another helicopter in the vicinity that was unable to land.
One Westpac helicopter landed on the island and was able to transport survivors back to the mainland.
"In the immediate aftermath a number of helicopters made a deliberate decision to fly to rescue the survivors."
"I want to thank the courageous decision made by first responders and those pilots in their immediate rescue effort made an incredibly brave decision under extraordinarily dangerous circumstances in an attempt to get people out," Ms Ardern said.
"As a results of their efforts, a number of people were rescued from the island."
A tourist boat also travelled to the island and rescued people stranded on the jetty at White Island.
Ms Ardern went to visit patients at Whakatāne Hospital about 10am this morning.
She then went to the Whakatāne Fire Station where she has been talking to Kahu helicopter pilots, firefighters and ambulance staff.
Ms Ardern paid tribute to the exceptional courage they showed in the face of a volatile situation and the risk of further eruptions.
She also praised the efforts of the local community in a media conference this morning.
Waikato Police Superintendent Bruce Bird said eight people were missing; 47 people went on to the island, five are confirmed dead, 31 are in hospital and three have been discharged.
Whakatāne mayor Judy Turner said there have been three eruptions and there is ongoing volcanic activity.