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An 8-year-old girl is in Hawke's Bay Hospital after being shot in the stomach with an air rifle by another child.
The incident happened at an address on State Highway 2, just north of Wairoa, on Sunday, ambulance staff told Hawke's Bay Today.
St John's Heretaunga territory manager Brendon Hutchinson said yesterday the 8-year-old child was transported by ambulance to Wairoa Hospital, with a moderate abdominal wound.
Wairoa police Sergeant Aubrey Ormond said the child was accidentally shot with an air rifle by another child. Police had yet to speak to the other child involved in the shooting and were still looking into the circumstances, Mr Ormond said.
The girl was transferred from Wairoa Hospital to Hawke's Bay Hospital by the Lowe Corporation rescue helicopter for surgery on Sunday night.
The child was described as "comfortable" and "not at risk," Mr Ormond said.
A spokeswoman for Hawke's Bay Hospital said the child was in a stable condition yesterday.
Senior Sergeant Luke Shadbolt said while people had a tendency to treat air rifles like toys, they could cause significant injury.
"Most air rifles have a low velocity and are not considered dangerous, but the reality is they can cause significant injury and should be treated like any other firearm," Mr Shadbolt said.
"The rules that apply to any other firearm should be applied and air rifles should certainly be kept out of reach of children. In this instance, the child is lucky she wasn't hit in the eye or face, or things could have been different."
Mr Shadbolt said it "is not uncommon" for people to be injured through the irresponsible use of an air rifle.
"These children may not have known the difference between an air rifle and a regular firearm, so she [the child] is very lucky."
A person over 18 did not need a firearms licence to buy an air rifle, while a person under 18 did require a licence, Mr Shadbolt said.
The NZ Police Arms Code specified air rifles should be fired only by a person who was over 18 or supervised by a person over 18. It was important an air rifle was fired within a safe area and that the pellets fired were contained within the property of the owner through the use of a suitable bullet trap or impact area.
Firing an airgun in a way that might endanger or frighten anyone, or harm property, could mean a fine of $3000 and/or imprisonment for up to three months.