Police say a firearm is at the centre of their investigation into the death of a 10-year-old boy in East Cape.
The boy was fatally shot on Tuesday afternoon at a remote sheep station in Waikura Valley and had celebrated his 10th birthday just days earlier.
Detective Sergeant Craig Scott of Gisborne CIB said the boy was with two friends when the accident happened.
"If the firearm had been secured correctly then this tragedy would certainly have been preventable," Scott said.
The boy and his friends had come to Te Kumi station with the
boy's uncle who was part of a shearing gang. They had recently
arrived at the Waikura Valley station west of Hicks Bay, which is
one of the most remote farms in the North Island.
Grandmother Cathy Raukawa said the family were still in shock and were waiting for information from the police.
Raukawa described him as a well-behaved boy.
"He was so polite and well mannered people couldn't believe he turned 10 a few days ago," she said.
Raukawa said her grandson was an outgoing child who loved swimming and soccer. "He was a water rat."
Ten minutes from help
Whangaparaoa School principal Tuihana Pook said the riverbank
where the boy was found was at least 10 minutes from help. His
friends would have had to run for more than 10 minutes to raise the
"They were miles out. There is access to the station itself but they were further up the river."
Police needed a 4WD to get up to where the boy was killed because of the steep terrain and thick bush, Pook said.
Pook said she would talk to her students about the accident at Monday's school assembly. While the children involved did not go to her school, they were often around firearms.
"Everybody goes duck shooting with their parents. It's the norm. When a tragedy like this happens it hit's very hard. They then know the reality of this old teacher raving on to them about safety issues."
A scene examination has been completed, and the boy's body was removed and taken to Gisborne Hospital late last night.
Police said a post mortem will be held in Palmerston North tomorrow morning to determine the cause of death and assist with the reconstruction of events leading up to the death.
This was the second fatal incident involving young children and a firearm that the CIB have attended and investigated in the last three years.