Police are appealing to the public for help to identify a man who allegedly grabbed a teenager in a Napier park.

The "unsavoury" incident occurred about 3.45pm on Thursday, police said.

A man approached the girl while she was sitting on a bench in the northern corner of Park Island.

He grabbed her before she struck him and broke free from his grasp.

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Constable Victoria Holden said the incident "traumatised" the victim.

"This was a very brave response from the victim and we want to catch up with the man."

The alleged offender was described as European, about 182cm tall, medium build, aged about 40, wearing a grey hooded top and black work boots, and was unshaven.

Holden urged anyone with information to call Hawke's Bay Police on 831 0700.

"Always be aware of your surroundings while out and about."