If the pigs hadn't needed feeding, then the robbers might have escaped.

But they were hungry - pigs are always hungry - so that meant 17-year-old Hautafataha Livai was out the back of the family dairy in the Far North's Okaihau at the critical time.

"I was just going to feed some pigs and I was looking back to the paddock next to our house and I just see two guys with bandanas, covered up. They were like bobbing down, looking around, going back down.

"It felt suspicious. I told mum and she said to call the cops."

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As Livai was walking to the phone, about 2.30pm on Sunday, the people working at the liquor store ran into the dairy calling for help. Jamla Jatt, the liquor store manager, had been eating lunch at the rear of the shop and had seen two people enter the shop, faces covered and carrying weapons.

CCTV footage shows one had a length of wood with a nail through the end while the other was carrying a long carving knife. "I ran out the back and went down to the dairy to ask for help."

As Jatt was trying to explain what was happening, Livai stepped out the front door of the dairy to see for himself.

At that point, the two men raced past - still with faces covered and one carrying the till from the cash register.

"I see the two guys I saw in the paddock running past the dairy. I chased them. My sisters and my dad chased after but I didn't notice until I turned around and saw them."

One of the pair disappeared but for the other, there was nowhere to hide on tiny Okaihau's main street.

Livai went looking for him and found him down an alley between two buildings. The chase continued with the fleeing man disappearing around the corner of the building.

When Livai rounded the building, the pursued man had removed the bandana and the length of wood but was the only person in sight.

"He tried to act like nothing was happening. I yelled out and told him to stop and he tried to run away. I caught up to him."

Shortly after, Livai's father arrived after flagging down a car for a ride. He warned his son to stand clear, concerned that the man might have a concealed weapon.

The prospect of escape had disappeared for the fleeing man. "He just kind of gave up, and said 'I'll come in with you then'."

"He was really scared. You could tell. I told him it would make it worse if he runs. He offered me money. 'I'll give you all I've got if you let me go.' I told him 'no, I can't do that. It wouldn't be right'."

An 18-year-old man and his 14-year-old alleged accomplice were arrested. Detectives said they were unable to comment because it was now before the courts.