Dairy stops selling cigarettes
The first two times, they came with guns. Then it was a hammer. And last Saturday morning, an axe.
After being robbed and ramraided 10 times, Tao Liu has had enough. He’s given up the smokes.
The owner of the Te Kowhai Food Centre is making a bold move, but he reckons it’s the only way to put off the robbers.
He knows it could be a blow to his livelihood.
‘‘But compared to loss of life, I have to. Before it was just a job, but now it’s very dangerous.
‘‘I want to sell them, but for the The Jacinda effect hit Hamilton for the final time yesterday afternoon.
Nearly 600 people filled Clarence Street Theatre as the countdown to Saturday’s general election heads into the final five days.
Ardern was greeted by young and old wearing red and black in her ‘‘old backyard’’.
The 37-year-old touched on having been born in Hamilton, where she spent her first four years in Dinsdale before her family moved to Morrinsville.
‘‘I have never had spontaneous applause for Dinsdale before.’’
Hamilton was her big smoke in her younger years.
‘‘I spent many, many hours sitting in Founders Theatre watching my sister’s jazz ballet recitals and many more hours doing laps up and down Victoria Street in my friend’s car as that is what bogans did.’’
Ardern spoke for nearly 30 minutes, touching on Labour’s policies again and encouraging people to vote early.
She has been pushing the early vote, having broken with tradition last week, voting early herself.
Election Commission figures show enrolment in the 18-24 age group is well down, notably less than at the same time in 2014.
‘‘I would certainly want to send the message if you’re worried about your enrolment details, go and vote early. You can enrol and vote at the same time,’’ Ardern said in reply to a question.
‘‘My view is very clear whether or not the government safety, I have to do this.’’
The husband and father of two boys purchased the store in rural Horotiu eight years ago. He used to get hit once or twice a year.
Robbers have come four times this year. Each time they are armed and wear masks.
‘‘We just run because the law says we can’t do anything,’’ he says, pulling up his sleeve to reveal a panic alarm he now wears on his wrist.
‘‘We had maybe two in three years. Now it’s 10 times. The first two times it was guns, second time a knife, and then an axe.
‘‘They take cigarettes and money, chocolate and a cellphone for the NZ Post.’’ changes this election – it will come down to turnout.’’
Those who came to listen to Ardern liked what they heard.
‘‘It was brilliant,’’ Hera Pierce said, ‘‘it was positive. She shows a clear way forward. She can hear what the Maori are saying. There
Liu wasn’t working the last time the store got hit, but says his worker was chased outside and around the store by one of the is hope she is identifying the cracks and what hasn’t been working for us as a whole.’’
‘‘It was inspiring,’’ Boudine Bijl said. ‘‘She’s showing workable solutions for the country. It was great to hear from the leader herself and I believed her.’’ robbers armed with an axe.
The pair then robbed the store of $8000 in cigarettes and tobacco.
That was the final straw.
‘‘It was quite good,’’ Elisha Fleming said. ‘‘I haven’t voted yet, but I am leaning towards Labour but I’m not set on them.
‘‘I like what I heard. I came because I want to hear from both sides so I can make a right and balanced judgment.’’
‘‘They are coming any time – we don’t know. It’s frightening.’’
Liu said he is now facing rising insurance premiums after losing his no-claims bonus. He’s lost thousands of dollars in cigarettes and had to claim insurance to repair the store’s frontage after two ram-raids. Each time he’s forked out $2500 in excess.
‘‘Each time we have to pay. Now I have high insurance. It’s gone up, now it will go up again.’’
Te Kowhai local Sharlene Decke, who once owned the dairy herself, said the robberies were putting the community at risk too.
There is a daycare centre and a primary school within metres of the dairy, she said.
‘‘Our children are in danger because this is happening at 3pm on a Monday and Friday.
‘‘Those kids are getting out of school and how do we know that these [guys] aren’t going to take off in a car and hit one of our children? As a community, all of our lives are in danger.’’
Decke said Liu was taking a risk financially, but the community would stand behind him.
‘‘By Tao taking the stance and getting rid of the cigarettes, which is a huge stance because it will impact on Tao’s income.
‘‘It’s not just people coming in to buy cigarettes, they will generally buy something to munch on.
‘‘We are totally behind him in this move.’’
She said there was even a risk that Liu would lose the business.
‘‘If that were the case, we would lose our pinnacle hub in the community.’’
Decke had talked to police, who told her they believe the dairy is a target because of its rural location and multiple escape routes.
‘‘Perhaps if we get cameras mounted coming into the town and out of the town, perhaps we could capture these people’s faces.’’
Detective Sergeant Scott Neilson said police are still investigating last Saturday’s robbery, which was linked to an earlier robbery at the Z Energy service station in Dinsdale.
At Hamilton’s Clarence Street Theatre yesterday, the crowd were eager to get close to Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern.
Te Kowhai Food Centre owner Tao Liu is sick of getting robbed so he’s giving up tobacco.