A Northland dairy owner hit on the head with a tyre iron during an attempted robbery says nine months' home detention for his attacker is a joke.

Jackson Ruwhiu, 18, of Kawakawa, was one of four teenagers involved in the attempted robbery of Kingsway Dairy in Hikurangi on July 10.

Ruwhiu struck the dairy owner, who did not want to be named for fear of further retribution, over the head with a tyre iron. The dairy owner then chased Ruwhiu and two others out of the shop.

Ruwhiu pleaded guilty to a charge of assault with an offensive weapon, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail. He was sentenced to carry out his penalty at home for nine months.

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Unable to attend the sentencing in Whangarei District Court on Tuesday, the dairy owner who was busy running his business said he was dismayed when he heard the outcome.

"We work hard for what we have. I'm here 24 hours a day, seven days a week and I never go anywhere. Home detention for nine months is a joke," he said.

"It's not right this sentence. We serve the community and we are here working long hours and we don't expect people to come in here and hurt us. I'm thankful I'm back in the shop doing my routine but I don't expect to be hurt doing my job."

He said a sentence of hard labour would have been more appropriate.

Judge Keith de Ridder said Ruwhiu and three others went to the dairy with the specific intent to rob it of money and cigarettes. Ruwhiu was heavily disguised and armed with a tyre iron.

Three of them went into the dairy while one remained in a car outside.

"You went up to the shopkeeper and hit him on the head with a tyre iron," Judge de Ridder said.

"You were chased by the shopkeeper and bought the incident to an end."

Police were called to the Kingsway Dairy on King St about 2.46pm on the Sunday after the four fled without taking anything.

Lawyer Julie Young said it was Ruwhiu's first appearance in the district court, although not his first time in court, and asked the judge to take into account his young age.

Judge de Ridder said that while on bail Ruwhiu had completed some courses and a probation report noted he was a young man of some talent but an extensive rehabilitation programme would need to be in place to ensure he did not reoffend.

Two others involved in the incident are still going through the courts.