A man who whispered in a schoolgirl's ear and rubbed her back in central Dunedin has been charged with indecent assault.

Police are hoping to identify two high school-aged girls who were approached by the 49-year-old man in the city yesterday.

About 3.50pm yesterday, a member of the public saw the man grab and push a schoolgirl on Stuart St, Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen said.

He later approached another schoolgirl, this time on George St, whispered in her ear and rubbed her back.

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The girl was seen crying by a member of the public.

The man has been charged with indecent assault, but police were keen to hear from anyone who might be able to identify the girls.