A boy fatally shot on a remote sheep station had just celebrated his 10th birthday.
Police are trying to piece together how the boy was shot dead on a remote riverbank on Tuesday afternoon.
Detective Sergeant Craig Scott of Gisborne CIB said the boy was with two friends when the accident happened.
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.
She said her grandson was an outgoing child who loved swimming and soccer.
"He was a water rat."
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.
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 alarm.
"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.
The scene examination was completed late yesterday and the boy's body was removed and returned to the Gisborne Hospital late last night.
Scott said an autopsy 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.
"Whilst the police are still attempting to determine the circumstances leading up to and at the time of the death what has been established is that had the firearm at the centre of the investigation been secured correctly then this tragedy would certainly have been preventable."
This was the second fatal incident involving young children and a firearm that the CIB have attended and investigated in the last three years.
Pook 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."
- © Fairfax NZ News