A person has been arrested after a man allegedly tried to grab a child's hand in South Auckland while they walked to school with their parent.

The child was walking on Hall Ave in Favona about 9.15am yesterday, police said.

Detective Senior Sergeant Tom Gollan said yesterday that the unknown man then fled the scene on foot.

The child was not harmed.

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However, police today charged a 21-year-old man with assault.

He is due to appear in the Manukau District Court tomorrow.

Detective Senior Sergeant Tom Gollan said police thanked the public for their assistance.

"This appears to be an isolated incident and we want to reassure the community that there is no wider risk," he said.

Favona Primary School, in Māngere, yesterday alerted parents and the wider school community.

A message on the school's Facebook page read: "We have just been told of an attempted abduction of a young child on their way to school with a parent in the area.

"We want to do everything we can to keep your children safe, so please pick your children up and drop them off, if possible."

The school told parents that any children waiting to be picked up at the end of the day would have to wait inside the school grounds - for their own safety.

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"Thanks for your help with this and please let other parents know about the need for safety around drop-offs and pick-ups."

The school principal declined to comment yesterday.