Two teenagers walking through suburban Onekawa in Napier on Saturday afternoon were told they would be shot if they did not hand over their cellphones.
The pair, a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old who both attend a local high school, were walking along Morris Spence Ave about 5.30pm on Saturday when they were approached and confronted by a man.
He kept one hand in his pocket, as if holding something, and told the boys he had a gun.
He threatened he would use it if they did not hand over their cellphones.
"Being confronted with threats like that left these boys pretty shaken," Detective Sergeant Emmet Lynch of Hawke's Bay Police said.
"It's not good."
The boys handed over their phones along with a Manly Sea Eagles cap one had been wearing.
They quickly made their way home and raised the alarm - having watched the man make off on foot along the western side of Morris Spence Ave and into Wycliffe St.
Investigating officer Detective Glenn Restieaux said the robber was described as male Maori in his late 20s, with shoulder-length curly black hair, a scar on his chin and what the boys described as "vivid" blue-green eyes.
He was wearing long brown pants, a hoodie and a red polka-dot scarf around his neck.
Mr Lynch said detectives had been canvassing residents in the immediate area seeking sightings of the man, or anyone who may have witnessed the robbery.
He said police wanted to hear from anyone who may have seen the offender, or who has any information about the incident.
People with information are asked to contact Detective Restieaux on 8310700, or to leave it anonymously on Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.
Police had meanwhile arrested two people in relation to a similar incident which happened in Latham St, Napier South, early on January 2.
A group of youths were robbed of their cellphones by two men who pulled up in a car about 1am, with one of them believed to have had a firearm.
The pair were arrested on January 12 and appeared in the Napier District Court on January 16 on charges of aggravated robbery. They were remanded in custody to re-appear in the Napier District Court on February 7.