Police investigating the shooting death of a 10-year-old Gisborne boy say it could have been avoided if the gun had been secured properly.
Patrick Brass died on a remote sheep station in Waikura Valley, near East Cape, about 4pm on Wednesday.
Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Scott says Patrick Brass died after a high-powered firearm he and two friends, aged eight and 13, found unsecured in a shearers' cottage went off.
Mr Scott says the weapon belonged to one of the boys' fathers. He says the Brass family are distraught and police are still investigating whether criminal charges should be laid.
A post-mortem will be held in Palmerston North on Friday.
It is the second fatal incident involving young children and a firearm in the past three years.