A man savagely attacked a 12-year-old boy after the boy called out to him on the road, police say.
The boy was walking along the Taradale cycleway in Napier with two friends when he called out to a man riding a bicycle, about 2.40pm yesterday.
The man believed to be between 40 and 50 took exception to the boy's remark, police said.
He allegedly grabbed the boy by the throat, punched him and put him in a headlock, causing him to fall down a stock bank. The man is then alleged to have chased the boy, kicked him and put him back in to a headlock. He then let the him go and rode off.
The boys ran to the nearby carpark and told people what happened.
Hawke's Bay acting Sergeant Andy Clinton said it was a "savage and prolonged attack by a grown man on a boy barely able to defend himself".
"It was a seemingly unprovoked and diabolical attack carried out and in broad daylight in public. It could have been so much worse for the poor young fella."
Police are looking for the man who rode towards Eastern Institute of Technology. He was chased by a member of the public when he returned to the scene half an hour later. He then rode in the direction of Carters Arms Park.
The man was wearing black pants and a grey top and riding a mountain bike with a large black rear mudguard.
The boy was taken to Hawke's Bay Regional Hospital and later discharged with superficial injuries. He is staying with his grandmother while on holiday from the Bay of Plenty.
People who think they might know the man or who were nearby yesterday were urged to contact police on 06 8310700 or by anonymously contacting Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.