Two out-of-control dogs sank their teeth into 8-year-old Cameron Bidois' legs but then a man came out of nowhere to save him.
He pulled the dogs off the child who had been knocked to the ground and yelled at them to get away, ending the ferocious attack.
But now the youngster and his mum, Kryselle Swinton, want to find the "hero" so they can say "thank you".
Cameron has six bite wounds on his legs and side, four are deep enough to need paper stitches.
The softly spoken boy is also pretty shaken by his ordeal, describing it as "frightening".
The Rotorua Lakes Council's Animal Control Unit has seized two dogs and is investigating.
Cameron, a Selwyn School pupil, was walking through an alley yesterday on his way to meet his older sisters at the back of Western Heights High School to catch a bus.
Up to 40 children use the route after school, but Cameron was first into the alley because his mum had told him not to muck around.
He heard two dogs barking in the alley and knew straight away trouble was looming, so turned and ran back.
Next thing he felt the dogs jump on him and knock him to the ground. They started biting him before a man came along and saved him.
Swinton said the dog control officers, who arrived quickly because someone had already contacted the council about the roaming dogs, told her the man spoke to them briefly before leaving.
"He just happened to be there and he scared the dogs away and kept the other children away and stopped them coming down the alley. If it wasn't for him, Jeez, he's a hero. He didn't just save Cameron, he saved all the other kids as well. It's a huge thing he did."
Swinton said the attack could have been worse if it wasn't for the man.
"He risked himself as well with two dogs. I'm very, very grateful."
Cameron described the man as Maori, wearing a hat and carrying shopping bags.
Swinton wasn't aware of the extent of her son's injuries until she got him to a doctor and they took off his school trousers. She said her son was very brave and never liked to make a fuss.
"I was bawling when I saw the injuries. It was horrible seeing the flesh on the inside of his trousers and all the blood," she said.
Swinton posted photographs of her son's injuries on Facebook and had been blown away with the support. She said they had been contacted by several people from Australia and all over New Zealand offering to help or give Cameron presents to cheer him up.
Council animal control supervisor Kevin Coutts said the two dogs have been seized from their owner.
"Our officer will be interviewing the dogs' owner tomorrow and an investigation will follow," Coutts said.
Swinton said her family were dog lovers, having two of their own that she described as "family members".
"It is the dogs but it's definitely the owners I am angry at for not controlling them or teaching them how to behave around people. I was fuming."
Meanwhile, Cameron had yesterday off school to recover but would return to school today.
■ If you are the man who helped Cameron or you know who he is, contact Kelly Makiha at the Rotorua Daily Post on (07) 349 7474 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.