Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding a man who was found badly injured on the side of a road near Pongakawa, north of Rotorua, on Saturday.

According to a police statement, the man was found injured on the side of Maniatutu Rd, Pongakawa, just before 1pm.

Police are making enquiries to ascertain how the man came to be on the side of the road and had to be airlifted to Rotorua Hospital.

The BayTrust Rescue Helicopter was sent to the area after being called in by St John paramedics.

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It is understood the man is a 21-year-old local who suffered serious head trauma and due to the time critical nature of his injuries he was airlifted back to Rotorua Hospital for further treatment where he remains in a serious condition.