When an armed man confronted Nenad Dikanovic in his local liquor store the Serbian immigrant felt no fear.

Instead he looked directly at the man holding a pistol and said, "You want to kill me, kill me."

Fortunately, Mr Dikanovic's bravado at Valley Wine Merchants in Henderson Valley on Saturday night did not get him killed.

It did, however, leave the 43-year-old in a neck brace.

The West Auckland man had entered the store about 8.30pm.

Mr Dikanovic, who speaks limited English, said he went straight to the refrigerated section of the store and everything seemed normal. It was only as he returned to the counter with a box of Haagen beer that he noticed the man holding the pistol.

Behind the gunman three men and three women were huddled together on the ground.

"He showed me the gun," said Mr Dikanovic. "I started to laugh and said, 'What do you want with that toy gun? I am from Serbia and have been in three wars'."

Angered by Mr Dikanovic's casual attitude, the gunman turned and fired at a stand of alcohol. The bullet hit the edge of the wooden shelving.

"After that I asked him, 'You want to kill me, kill me'. Another man who was standing behind me ... then hit me."

Mr Dikanovic said he was hit twice around the jaw before being kicked on the ground.

The two men went through Mr Dikanovic's pockets, and those of the staff and other customers, taking cellphones, wallets and a set of keys before fleeing with money from the store's till.

Using the keys, they left in a silver Mitsubishi Legnum belonging to one of the customers.

The stationwagon was found parked 600m away at the intersection of Landow Place and Parrs Cross Rd.

None of the other four customers or two staff members was injured.

Mr Dikanovic said although he never fought in Serbia he had experienced worse things in his homeland.

He said he had openly confronted the gunman in the hope that it would scare him and his mate to leave the store.

Detective Jason McIntosh of Henderson police said yesterday: "In a situation like this anyone confronted by offenders should do what they say. One customer in the shop challenged the pair and this can simply aggravate the situation, especially when a firearm is involved. In this case the firearm was used after the offenders were challenged."

* A man who tried to rob the Mercury Bay Foodmarket in Whitianga armed with a knife last night was disarmed and knocked unconscious by the store's occupants.

Police said the man entered the store about 8.30pm and demanded money but was overpowered.

He suffered a head injury and was taken to Thames Hospital by ambulance.

Late last night he was helping the police with their inquiries.