A van which should be being used today to transport preschoolers at a Napier kōhanga reo was still missing last night after being stolen at the weekend.

The white van, branded with the name of Whakakotahitanga Kōhanga Reo, was discovered missing on Saturday morning.

It was stolen during the night, and police said yesterday they had no reported sightings since hearing of the theft.

Kōhanga reo representatives were distressed over what had happened, while Facebook posts called for the vehicle to be returned, preferably undamaged, and condemned those who had taken it as damaging the education of the children.

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The van was used for children's transport on haerenga (outings), and whānau transport for training, hui and wānanga.

Kōhanga whānau member Hori Reti-Kaukau, who was also on the board of Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Inc, posted: "Someone or some people think it's a great idea to smash in the window and steal our kōhanga reo van that belongs to our babies.

"Napier is a small place and we know just about everyone here, so we hope we just get the van back in one piece," he posted.

He told Hawke's Bay Today last night it was a surprise someone would take such a clearly-labelled vehicle.

"Kōhanga whānau work very hard to get what resources they have," he said."

Meanwhile, three young people were understood to have been apprehended after an attack in Napier on Saturday night. A Westshore dairy proprietor was said to have been knocked to the ground and kicked by a group of up to five, some who went into shop to steal potato chips.

The attack happened on the corner of Charles St and Alfred St as the proprietor was closing up for the night, about 7.45pm.

"He was punched to the ground before several of the teens ran into the dairy and stole packets of chips," a police spokesperson said. "The owner sustained minor injuries."

No further information was available from police yesterday and the media centre in Wellington was unable to confirm whether anyone had been apprehended.

Witnesses said a group of young people had been loitering around a bus shelter on the opposite side of Charles St from the shop and no vehicle was thought to have been involved.

The store owners yesterday declined to comment, worried it might affect their sale plans after 16 years in the business.

Placed on the market recently, it was in a small shopping centre, neighbouring a school with a roll of about 150, and was the only dairy in a beachside suburb.