Quick-thinking motorists on an Auckland motorway shielded a seven-year-old boy from traffic after he was thrown from a vehicle and over the central barrier.
Without their actions, police say, the major crash on the Southern Motorway near Otahuhu could easily have been fatal.
Northern Communications Inspector Cornell Kluessien says it appears a car was changing lane when it collided with a people-mover carrying six people, after midnight.
Mr Kluessien praised the actions of motorists on the northbound carriageway, who stopped and shielded the boy until officers arrived.
The child was admitted for surgery at Middlemore Hospital, and is stable, while a woman is critically injured.