A man who grabbed a teenage girl on her way to school smelled of alcohol, police say.

The teen was approached and grabbed from behind on her way to Tamatea High School yesterday, Detective Michael Signal said. She was walking near the Lanark Cres and Glamorgan Ave intersection.

At about 8.30am a middle-aged European man cycled past her in the opposite direction along Lanark Cres before turning around and coming up behind her.

"He grabbed her by her hair with some force, resulting in scratches to her forehead. The victim kicked out at the offender, causing him to fall from his bike, and fled."


Mr Signal said the man was last seen heading down Glamorgan Ave on his mountain bike, without a helmet.

Tamatea High School principal Robin Fabish told Hawke's Bay Today that he was really pleased by the prompt response of police who had been very supportive.

There was an increased police presence in the area yesterday with Tamatea Intermediate School also on Freyberg Ave.

"I am happy that we have followed our processes, communication has been strong and our community feel confident because of that."

"We have encouraged our students to use their stranger danger practices and report anything unusual over the next few days while police continue their investigations," Mr Fabish said.

Directly after the incident Mr Fabish posted a statement on the school's website which said a student was accosted on the way to school this morning.

He said the student was safe and her parents had been in to the school.

A text was also sent to parents of students letting them know everyone was safe.

Tamatea Intermediate School in a post on their Facebook page said their thoughts were with the high school.

They also discussed actions and suggestions with police and had extra staff on duty after school while students left at 3pm.

Onekawa-Tamatea Ward Napier City councillor Annette Brosnan was shocked by the news.

Ms Brosnan was born and raised in the area and said she had not heard of an incident of that type happening before.

"The community is tight knit and my thoughts are with the girl's family. I just hope the person responsible comes forward and gets the help they need."

Residents who lived nearby were unaware of the incident but said it certainly gave them a shake up.

One woman said incidents like this were pretty scary, especially when it happened on the front door step.

"I just hope they get the person responsible it is not a nice thing to wake up to on a Monday morning," she said.

The offender was described as a skinny European man, aged in his 40s or 50s, around 2m tall with blonde or sandy brown hair.

He was wearing a green jersey, possibly a V-neck, smelled of alcohol and had a croaky voice with distinctive "wide open eyes".

Anyone with any information in relation to this incident is asked to contact their local police station or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.