Waitara residents yesterday expressed disgust at the behaviour of teenagers who they say have repeatedly attacked a shopkeeper.
Fiona Liu, 38, was taken to hospital on Monday after being allegedly punched in the head several times by three teenage girls misbehaving in her McLean St Best for Less store.
Constable Bruce Lilley said police were still investigating the incident but at least one of the three 14 and 15-year-old girls would be charged with assault and dealt with by Youth Aid.
Waitara resident Brenda Knuckey said she did not see the attack, but had entered the store to find Mrs Liu on the floor in the middle of a giant mess.
"She was on the floor and everything was strewn everywhere."
When she saw a man trying to help Mrs Liu up, Mrs Knuckey ran around the corner to alert the police.
"It's terrible. I hate Waitara because of all the violence. It's just not good enough, we're going to end up like Auckland."
She said she understood the girls had been spraying perfume in the shop and had been asked to stop and leave before the attack happened.
"She's just making a living, but the kids love to pick on her. I think it's because she doesn't speak very good English."
Mrs Knuckey said she had witnessed another attack on Mrs Liu and had heard of several others.
Mr Lilley said it was often the case that assaults were not reported to police, and some of the girls involved in the incident had been excluded from school and were spending their time on the streets.
Staff from neighbouring businesses weren't prepared to go on record to the Taranaki Daily News about the incident, but several said Mrs Liu was being victimised for standing up for herself.
- © Fairfax NZ News