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A 13-year-old girl pleaded for help from a stranger just minutes before she was dragged into bushes and raped in a daylight attack near a busy road in west Auckland.
Police say the girl approached a woman filling her car at the BP station on Great North Rd, in Waterview, and begged for help, after being followed by a stranger for about a kilometre from Pt Chevalier.
Police want to speak to the motorist after she reportedly told the girl to keep away from the man, before driving off.
Detective Sergeant Andy King said last night the man posed a huge risk to the community, and it was feared he could strike again.
"Anyone that attacks very young girls like this obviously has some major issues of huge concern to police and the public.
"This is a real blitz attack, for want of a better word, on a very vulnerable young girl."
Mr King said the attacker appeared to know the area well.
The 13-year-old girl - who was believed to live in the area - was followed from the Pt Chevalier shops, along various walkways that run through the area.
It is believed the man tried to strike up a conversation with her, before going into the BP petrol station, where he was captured by a security camera.
A short time after leaving the service station, the man dragged the girl into secluded bushes in the Esplanade and raped her.
The girl has told police he continued to follow her for several minutes after the assault, before taking off on foot.
She did not see which way he went.
She has described him as a Maori or Polynesian man, aged between 20 and 30 years, of a solid build and about 1.82m tall.
Yesterday, on-call detectives from across Auckland came together as the investigation got under way.
Mr King said police would continue to interview witnesses and do a wide canvass of the area.
They would use their intelligence database to identify potential offenders.
The girl had a medical assessment yesterday and was expected to be interviewed by a specialist child interviewer tomorrow or Wednesday.