A Flaxmere dairy owner has challenged the Government to take his vocation seriously after three teenagers tried to rob his shop.
Rakesh Kumar was enjoying lunch with his family in the Swansea Island Food Mart on Monday, November 6 when three youths entered the store wielding long knives and a golf club.
The trio were unsuccessful, as Kumar and his associates immediately ran towards them, yelling at them. The trio fled in a car. Police found them the next day.
Maui Maaka and Mana Huriwai, 17, yesterday pleaded guilty in the Hastings District Court to attempted aggravated robbery.
An alleged third offender, aged 14, cannot be named and will appear in the Youth Court.
Kumar said it was time the Government addressed growing safety issues faced by dairy owners in Hawke's Bay and beyond.
"We pay our taxes, the damage is done to us and the risk is done to us. The law has to be made tougher. Somebody wrote the law 100 years back and we're following the law but if there's a problem we have to change it. Who will do this?"
Kumar said he'd lived in Hawke's Bay since moving from Fiji 16 years ago, and thought those perpetrating such crimes were not being punished fairly.
"They're bashing the shopkeepers. What have they [the shopkeepers] ever done? We are working long hours, 50 or 60 hours a week, contributing to the community.
"At the end of the day we are just a joke. We as citizens here, who work in this country, are just a joke. Somebody can come and bash us and go away. What rights do we have?"
Judge Max Courtney remanding Maaka and Huriwai on bail to reappear in the Napier District Court on March 5.
Attempted aggravated robbery carries a maximum charge of seven years' imprisonment.
Huriwai faced an additional charge of wilful damage, after he kicked the wing mirror of a car in July last year, and two charges of breaching bail; all which he had earlier pleaded guilty to.
Judge Courtney ordered a pre-sentence report and referred the matter to restorative justice.
In the meantime Kumar said he only expected things to get worse if the community didn't step up and demand change.
"These things will happen. It will get worse and worse unless we make the law tougher. It has happened to me, it could happen to your house, it could happen anywhere if the law is soft.
"We are all human beings who live all together. We want them to have good values. This is a good, peaceful country, and there are people like this everywhere, but we can always do something better. If we think positive we can make things better."