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Elderly man rejects hero claims after finding abducted little girl

The elderly man who found a five-year-old after she was abducted yesterday morning is still shaken by what happened.

Palmerston North police are hunting for the man who snatched a young girl as her two sisters tried to fight him off.

Bill Gilliland, 91, didn't sleep well last night and told ONE News he "feels worse this morning", while also saying he doesn't think he's a hero.

Just before 11am yesterday he was driving home when he noticed the little girl standing on that corner weeping, prompting him to turn around and go back.

She had just been dumped on the side of the road by her abductor after being grabbed and pushed into a car two and a half hours earlier when she was walking to school.

When Mr Gilliland found her she was on the other side of town on Hind Place and he says he was "only doing what I should be doing".

A white Nissan Maxima between 1988-1995. Source: Supplied

Meanwhile police are searching for a Nissan Maxima, believed to be manufactured between 1988-1995, as they investigate the abduction.

"This type of incident, while rare here in New Zealand, is every family’s worst nightmare," Inspector Sarah Stewart says.

"We’ve a much loved young girl who has been taken by someone not known to her and we currently do not know why."

But Ms Stewart says police have no information that would indicate yesterday's incident was linked to one in the area five years ago when a nine-year-old girl was coerced into a car and driven around for half an hour before being dropped back into the city.

Police says they understand the concern and panic which may be felt by the wider community as a result of the incident but stress this is extremely rare in New Zealand.

"Parents and caregivers should continue to speak with their children around how to recognise the undesired behaviours from other people," says Ms Stewart.