Onlookers desperately tried to free a 7-year-old boy whose head became stuck in an electric gate near Auckland Botanic Gardens this afternoon.
Emergency services were called to the scene outside the gardens on Katote Close in Manurewa at 2.45pm.
Tonight the boy was in a critical but stable condition in hospital, a Counties Manukau District Health Board spokeswoman said.
Eyewitness Sean Meads, 20, was visiting the gardens with his two young half-brothers when he heard screams.
"His head was stuck between an electric gate and a concrete wall," he said.
About eight members of the public desperately tried to pull the gate back but it took about five minutes before they could free him.
"When we got him out he fell ...."
The boy was not conscious and had a large injury to his head.
A woman thought to be his mother was weeping hysterically.
Meads said it was a traumatic incident to witness.
A St John spokeswoman said the child had been taken to Middlemore Hospital in a critical condition.
A police spokeswoman said WorkSafe would be leading an investigating into what happened.
Detective Gareth Brown said the boy's family was being supported at Middlemore Hospital.
"The boy has been playing on the gate when a car has come up and hit the sensor and the gate has opened.
"Unfortunately, the boy has been crushed,'' Brown said.
Police are helping the family, but there were language barriers, he said.