New Zealand cousins braved dangerous waters
Payge Olds, 16, (R) risked her life to pull Boobesh Palani from the water as he was drowning in Wellington Harbour. Her cousin Kelly McKay, 15, gave Palani CPR until paramedics arrived  Facebook: Payge Olds

An Indian man rescued from Wellington Harbour, New Zealand, by two brave teenage girls has died in hospital.

Boobesh Palani, 26, passed away in Wellington Hospital with his friends by his side, police told the New Zealand Herald.

Palani's identity was not known when he was dragged from the harbour by brave teenagers, so New Zealand police posted a picture of him on news websites in the hopes the public could help identify him.

"This is a tragedy but thanks to the public's help we were able to establish Palani's identity which meant his friends were at his side for his final few days," police said.

Palani, who was studying in New Zealand, was rescued from the waters at Burdans Gate, Eastbourne, on 30 March, by two teenage girls after they heard his screams for help.

Cousins Kelly McKay, 15, and Payge Olds, 16, were helping a friend tow a car when they heard Palani's shouts.

They rushed 300m down the beach, where Payge swam 70m out to sea to rescue the man.

"We all thought it was a prank at first because this kind of thing doesn't really happen," Olds, from Lower Hutt in Wellington told Daily Mail Australia.

"I was the last one there and everyone else was undressed and ready to jump in the water, but no one had jumped in yet because none of them are comfortable swimmers, so I ended up just stripping off to my underwear and then jumping in," Olds said.

Murky waters

Olds said she was not a confident swimmer, but knew that the man's life depended on her.

"I wasn't expecting to get that far," she said. "At the time I didn't really think about it. I just thought you know what there's a man out there suffering, I need to get to him and help him. Now I'm really proud of myself and I'm happy that I was there."

"There are eels and multiple other things in there," she added. "Sometimes we do get sharks and whales and stingrays but I didn't really think about that. Well I did, but I tried to avoid that thought."

Two men who were sitting on the rocks on the harbours edge, shone torches on the water so Payge would be able to see where she was going.

The teenager said she was terrified she would be too late and that she would lose the man in the dark.

"My worst fear was that he wasn't there anymore and that I was just too late," she said. "My cousin Kelly did CPR she did so good. We're really proud of each other," Olds said.

"I don't consider myself a hero, I just consider myself human because it's pretty much what anyone would do I thought."

Senior Sergeant Andre Kowalczyk of New Zealand Police said that the actions of the two girls should be applauded.

"They did an excellent job in very difficult circumstances and their efforts to enter the water to save this man's life were exceptional," he said.