A man who hit a child at least seven times including a punch to the head with a closed fist has received a prison sentence.

Selwyn Herewini pleaded guilty to assaulting a 12-year-old child when he appeared in the Whanganui District Court on Tuesday.

The incident occurred on April 20 at the Ruapehu council building.

Judge Philip Crayton sentenced Herewini to nine months imprisonment.

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"You know full well that this was an utterly unacceptable violence towards someone who could not defend themselves and was in no position to offer resistance."