A nine-year-old boy was flown to hospital with a neck injury after an "illegal tackle" during a rugby game.
The boy, who played for Paparoa Rugby Club under-9s, was airlifted from the Wellsford Rugby Club grounds to Starship Hospital after the incident on Saturday.
"It was an illegal tackle and he was in a lot of pain, but it was nothing malicious," said club spokesman Alan Brielrly.
"Precaution was taken and emergency services were called."
Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter paramedic Ross Aitken treated the boy at the scene.
Aitken said the boy was in a moderate condition when the helicopter arrived.
"It was challenging for him to get up. He had back and neck pain which is a concern, so we made him comfortable and tried to minimise his movement to prevent any spinal injuries.
"We assessed him and decided pain relief was needed, and then took him to Starship."
Brielrly confirmed scans had come back clear and the boy was discharged from Starship on Saturday evening.
New Zealand Rugby's senior media advisor Andrew Campbell said there had been a "massive decline" in head and spinal injuries in recent years.
Campbell said that was largely due to the Rugby Smart initiative which aims to equip coaches, referees and players with skills needed to prevent serious injuries from arising.
"Every coach has to be accredited and training modules include sections on concussion. We provide a bunch of initiatives including how to prevent serious injury from occurring."
New Zealand Rugby Foundation's chief executive officer Lisa Kingi-Bon said the country was leading the way in rugby injury prevention and education.
"There are over 150,000 players and over 10,000 referees and coaches. There were around 187 spinal cord injuries last year and only two were rugby related."