A mother is reeling after a stranger lashed out at her toddler in an Auckland Kmart store, pushing a trolley into his head and punching him after he threw a "tantrum" at the checkout.

Police have confirmed they are investigating the assault allegation at Kmart Albany yesterday.

The mother said the woman, believed to be in her 60s, allegedly rammed a trolley into her 2-year-old son's head and punched him - leaving bumps on his forehead. The incident was caught on the store's cameras.

The child's mother, Rebecca, told the Herald she was shopping for birthday presents in Albany mall around midday yesterday.

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She was in Kmart with her 2-year-old son and was waiting in a fairly long line to purchase the gifts. Her boy had grown impatient as they waited, and his complaints turned into a full-on tantrum.

"At first I was like, 'this is fine, we're going to meet Nana soon' - I just kept saying that.

"Then I got to the kiosk and I started scanning my products, and the tantrum got worse.

"He wouldn't usually behave like this, but I've got to admit - it was a really bad tantrum. Probably one of the worst I would have seen."

The alleged assault happened around midday, at the Kmart store in Albany mall. Photo / Michael Craig
The alleged assault happened around midday, at the Kmart store in Albany mall. Photo / Michael Craig

The situation was made worse, she said, by the fact the self-service kiosk kept freezing.

"I had my 2-year-old in my arms and was trying to scan my products with the other arm… it was getting quite bad."

Rebecca had hired one of the mall's little shopping carts for her son to ride in, which would also hold the presents she purchased.

As she turned around to pop another item in the cart, she saw a trolley rolling towards her son - who was standing in front of the cart.

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A woman, who Rebecca estimated was in her 60s, was pushing the trolley as it hit her son's head.

"I either grabbed the trolley or grabbed their hand, I can't remember, and said 'Oi'," Rebecca said.

The woman then started abusing her over her son's behaviour.

"She said 'Take him bloody home! Be quiet! I don't come here to listen to this!'."

The yelling, Rebecca said, was as shocking as the trolley incident had been.

"Everybody had just stopped, and I was quite surprised afterwards when I realised people don't interfere, in case something else that's bad happens.

"I think people were just kind of staring and watching, while she laid into me."

By this point, Rebecca said her son had stopped yelling - he seemed to have realised what was going on.

As she scanned the rest of her items, shell shocked, a young woman came up to her to help and told her she was "doing an amazing job".

"I went down to Customer Services [to return the cart] and I lost it down there - I think it had all sunk in."

Rebecca met her mother shortly after, who encouraged her to lay a formal complaint with the store, and with police. She went back to Kmart and went through the footage with the store manager.

"It was sped up, but he pretty much said to me 'yeah you can see she'd kind of pulled the trolley to the side to direct it straight into him'."

"He slowed it down to show us, then said 'yeah we have enough, we'll make some complaints and see if we can trace her'."

When she got home, she received another call from the Kmart manager.

"He said to me, 'I'm sorry to do this to you… but I feel it's the right thing to do'.

" 'We've reviewed the video footage in detail and we can see that she has actually punched your son in the head with quite some force, when your back was turned'."

Rebecca said this was "unbelievable".

"The whole lot was."

A police constable visited Rebecca's home to take her statement last night. She'd been told police were trying to track down the registration plate of the woman's car, to identify her.

Rebecca said the store manager and police had both been incredibly helpful.

Her son was now fine, despite having bumps on his forehead.

However, she felt she had let him down.

"My job is to protect my children. To know that someone has punched him in the head and I haven't reacted... he'll be like 'this is normal for people to do this to me'," she said.

"I don't want him to be physiologically damaged."

Police confirmed they had spoken to Kmart and planned to review footage of the incident on the in-store cameras.

A police spokesman confirmed they had been notified of an alleged assault.

"Police will be looking into the matter and will be following up with the complainant."

Kmart has been contacted for comment.