Surf Life Saving New Zealand is endorsing the actions of a lifeguard at Piha Beach who went to the aid of a school group taking a surfing lesson in a rip.
Lifeguard Duncan Clark says the high school students were paddling frantically in swells of up to three metres when he mounted the rescue on Monday evening.
Most of the learner surfers were back on shore by the time lifeguards were in the water, but one teenager had to be pulled into a rescue boat.
Piha Surf School says it took the students into the rip so they could learn how to get out of it and believes the rescue was unnecessary.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand chief executive Grant Florence says lifeguards undertake many rescues and he trusts their judgement.
Mr Florence says Piha has lots of potential dangers and caution is needed, however he believes the lifeguards did the right thing.
"I really endorse the action that our lifeguards took. They are people that are experienced on that beach and obviously made an assessment and took some action that I believe was extremely appropriate in the preventative sense. I'm proud of what they've done."
The Department of Labour says a complaint has been laid about the surf school.