Police are describing a sexually motivated attack on a 6-year-old girl in West Auckland as "every parent's worst nightmare".
Three children were playing at Glendene Reserve on Glendene Avenue when they were approached by a man who spoke briefly to them, before grabbing the 6-year-old.
"At that time he's taken her down towards a creek area and assaulted her in what I believe is a sexually motivated assault," said Detective Sergeant Peter Litherland.
The girl's mother heard her screams and ran to her, causing the man to run off into the reserve.
While the girl escaped with minor injuries and some scratch marks, the incident was "traumatic", Litherland said.
"This was every parent's worst nightmare and it's extremely important that we identify the male and speak to him," he said.
The attacker, believed to be a local, was described as a young man of skinny build, with dark skin, possibly of mixed race.
He was believed to be wearing a dark coloured t-shirt.
The man left a pair of white jandals on the scene before he fled into the nearby reserve.
The jandals have the JayJays logo written on the bottom and are a size medium. The JayJays logo is also written in white inscription as part of the sole.
"The jandals appear to be reasonably new, one of the manufacturers labels is still stuck on the foot and hasn't come off yet," said Litherland.
"It's possible that someone has given them to a family member or friend for Christmas. If anyone recognises them please contact us. This crime is very concerning and we want to speak to this man as soon as possible."
Litherland added that anyone who has a friend, flatmate or family member who returned home last night about 9pm with wet clothing and no footwear is also urged to contact police.
Police feared the man could attack again if he was not captured and are appealing to the public to come forward with any information.
"It's obviously a concern to us that there may be future attacks, that this individual may choose to repeat what he's done," said Litherland.
Police believe someone may have seen the man between 8 and 9pm at the intersection of Farquhar Rd and Phelps Pl.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Waitakere Police on 09 839 0627 or to call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.