A Papatoetoe dairy owner is in hospital after armed robbers bashed him on the head for cash and cigarettes.

Police say around 12.10pm today two males entered the Trimmer Dairy in Shirley Rd, armed with weapons.

Owner Saiyad Kaiyum Shah was restocking shelves when the robbers hit him over the head with a weapon. They cleaned out the till and grabbed tobacco and cigarettes before making their getaway in a stolen vehicle, police said.

Police took Shah to Middlemore Hospital. He remains under observation in a stable condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

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Counties Manukau's crime squad was immediately sent to the dairy and were carrying out a scene examination, Detective Senior Sergeant Karen Bright said.

The getaway vehicle was found abandoned in Manurewa and would be forensically tested, she said.

Shah, believed to be in his early 60s, has owned the corner dairy for 25 years and is a stalwart of the Papatoetoe community. He moved here in 1989 from Nadi, Fiji, according to the Indian Weekender.

Nek Mohammed, a member of the newly-formed Crime Prevention Group, rushed to the dairy to help out. He said Shah "will be alright, but it's hard to say because there's a head injury".

"It's not till they do the X-rays that you find out the extent of the damage and whether it's life-threatening."

The corner dairy's counter is protected by a solid steel security screen, but it did not help Shah who was out restocking shelves when the thieves arrived, Mohammed said.

Friends of Shah are minding the shop but it remains closed as the till is damaged. Mohammed was not sure how much tobacco was taken but said many shelves were empty.

The Crime Prevention Group was formed last month by Indian community and business leaders following a spate of violent robberies. But it's "not just Indians - every community is being targeted", Mohammed said.

The group is holding a protest in the Manukau CBD this Saturday afternoon to call for more police and stronger policing powers.