The Kiwi father of a 5-year-old boy shot dead by his 8-year-old cousin has flown to Samoa to be with the child's body.
James May was visiting the village of Samamea, 44km from the capital Apia, with his family when he, his cousin and uncle went into the woods to shoot pigeons and collect coconuts on Wednesday, Samoa's Weekend Observer reported.
James was shot in the face and killed.
The shooting happened when the uncle reportedly put the loaded gun down briefly while he looked for a stick to carry the coconuts home, the 8-year-old's father, Pita Leausa, told the Observer.
"My brother turned away for less than a minute then the next minute he heard a gunshot," Leausa said. "The children were fighting over the gun when it happened."
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said the boy was not a New Zealand citizen, but his father was.
The man had returned to Samoa today and was receiving support from the New Zealand High Commission on the island.
Samoan Police told Radio New Zealand it was unclear if the boy's body would be returned to New Zealand or stay in Samoa.
The boy's mother, Mui May, posted a message about him on her Facebook page this morning.
"Mommy& daddy miss u soo much son also your sisters Karen May,Angela May,Linda May,Marion an Rochelle an your only 1 brother Barry May..."
Her posting was followed by shocked messages of support and grief from friends and family.
May's Facebook says she lives in the Samoan capital, Apia.
The Samoa Observer reported the boy and his uncle, Ieti Leausa, had both been taken in for questioning. However, Radio New Zealand reported police saying it was unlikely charges would be laid and the pair were now in the care of relatives.
The 8-year-old's parents said they were heartbroken about the incident.
"He didn't mean to hurt anyone," Pita told the Observer.
- © Fairfax NZ News