The owner of a Taradale restaurant caught in the crossfire of a Hawke's Bay gang war says staff had no idea a 60-person booking was for a Mongrel Mob gathering until they walked in the door.
Shani's Family Eatery and Bar owner Snedden D'Costa said staff had treated it as a "normal booking" and were surprised when gang members wearing patches, which are not permitted inside, turned up after 12pm on Sunday.
Before everyone in the group had even made it in the door, let alone eaten, violence erupted on the street, D'Costa said.
Police said the fight involving 30 to 40 Black Power and Mongrel Mob members on Gloucester St in Taradale about 1pm on Sunday was "completely unacceptable" and called on the public for help identifying the culprits.
The two gangs met on the road as a brawl broke out, before a vehicle jumped the kerb, crossing over a pathway, travelling on the wrong side of the road in the direction of the crowd.
At least one shot was fired from a gun during the commotion, with one 25-year-old man seriously injured by a gunshot, and a pellet striking the back of a child's car seat while a child sat in it.
Detective Inspector Rob Jones said police in the Eastern District now had a directive to carry firearms and members of the public could expect a heightened police presence as inquiries into the incident continue.
Jones said extra officers are now in Tairāwhiti and Hawke's Bay to "boost capability and visibility".
D'Costa said it was the first gang incident of its kind in Shani's three-and-a-half year history and forced them to close for the day.
The eatery, which specialises in ribs, wings and steak, can cater to 250 people at a time, and serves approximately 1000 people per week.
"Our restaurant is frequented by people from various walks of life, this was the first incident of its kind," D'Costa said.
"When someone makes a booking, we don't ask them where they are from, what they do, we just take the booking. We are simple people."
The restaurant had lost out on at least $6000 of business because of the violence and had been forced to throw away perishable food, he said.
"We definitely lost out on at least 120 people who would have paid about $50 dollar per head. Hospitality is already run on slim profits."
He said he could not predict whether they would lose out on further business following the incident.
"We are open again, and we are all fine.
"Right now we are just waiting on direction from police and the Taradale Marketing Association."
D'Costa said while there were no gang patches allowed in the restaurant or gang colours, it was a challenge for staff if someone turned up in one.
"We can't make people remove them. We can only ask politely."
Marisa Bidois, CEO of the Restaurant Association of New Zealand, said it would be a challenge for a restaurant owner to turn down a booking of gang members.
"The Human Rights Act states that you cannot discriminate based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or political opinions.
"Outside of this limitation, restaurants are private property, and owners are within their rights to ask customers to either amend their dress to fit the dress code policy of the restaurant or to leave.
"Restaurant owners can turn people away if they are intoxicated, or don't fit the dress code or for any other reason under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act. For example if the restaurant had a legitimate concern that a fight would break out.
"We recommend that if anyone does feel unsafe at any time to call the local police station or in emergency situations dial 111.
"At the Association we are working on gathering more information and resources to support businesses in this area and members should contact us for more info."