The sale of high-powered magnet sets that have killed and injured a number of children around the world have been banned in New Zealand.

The magnets, known as 'rare earth magnets' and which are 50 times stronger than conventional magnets, are already banned in Australia and the US but are sold in New Zealand shops.

An unsafe goods notice would be issued on the magnets from tomorrow, which meant no one would be allowed to import or sell them, Consumer Affairs Minister Simon Bridges said today.

In December a toddler was admitted to Auckland's Starship Hospital with internal injuries after swallowing some of the magnets.


"Though these magnets tend to be marketed at adults as office toys and many brands carry strict safety warnings, it is clear from the cases here and overseas that they pose too great a risk to children," Mr Bridges said.

If two or more of these magnets are ingested they can become joined up in the digestive system and the pressure they exert can cause serious inflammation and ulceration. If left untreated it can quickly lead to major tissue damage, perforations and potentially infection and death.