A father thrust into the middle of the debate on the anti-smacking referendum after pushing his son over is a "great dad" who Child, Youth and Family have approved of, say pro-smacking lobbyists.

But supporters of the anti-smacking law change say Glenn Grove, who repeatedly shoved his 7-year-old son when he refused to play rugby, is a very poor example of good parental correction.

Mr Grove pleaded guilty to assault in the Lower Hutt District Court on Monday. He may be discharged without conviction if he undergoes an anger management course.

At his son's rugby game in May, Mr Grove was said to have become agitated when his son said he did not want to play without a complete uniform.

After falling while resisting his father, Mr Grove pushed the boy to the ground on three occasions as he tried to stand up. A bystander reported the incident to police.

Family First director Bob McCroskie said police were wasting their resources, and being heavy-handed in dealing with cases such as Mr Groves'.

"It's a very isolated incident. This is a great dad ... trying to deal with a frustrating moment, with a resistant child. Which parent hasn't been faced with that?" he said. "Once again, we target good families with the trauma of an investigation, prosecution and public vilification, while ignoring the rotten parents who abuse their children day in and day out."

The 'yes' vote spokeswoman Deborah Morris-Travers said parents needed to show control.

"Promoters of the referendum on child discipline must be truly desperate if they are willing to make a father who repeatedly pushes over his 7-year-old their new poster-boy for 'a smack as a part of good parental correction'," she said.

"The 'no' vote campaign would have used the so-called 'ear-flick' dad as their example of supposed injustice against parents until he was convicted of punching his child in the face.

"Now they are pointing to an angry father, who pleaded guilty to assault, as a 'great dad'."

Ms Morris-Travers said all parents got tired and frustrated but the actions being raised were not good parental correction.

Mr McCroskie was also disappointed that police released Mr Groves' name, saying the father was further punished by exposure in the media.

"It seems incredible that rapists, murderers and paedophiles get name suppression but a dad who is likely to be discharged without conviction has his name splashed across the newspapers and internet."

A referendum is being held asking "should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?".

Opponents of the 2007 law change, which removed the reasonable force defence in child abuse cases, want the public to vote "no".

The Government believed the law was working as intended and police are only prosecuting serious cases.

Information issued to Family First under the Official Information Act, reported in the newspaper, showed eight people had been prosecuted for "minor acts of physical discipline" against children between September 2007 and last October.

Two were discharged without conviction, one completed diversion, while others received supervision.

- ADDITIONAL REPORTING: NZPA