An 8-year-old girl who was shot in the stomach by her brother with an air rifle has been discharged from Hawke's Bay Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman says.

The girl was taken to Wairoa hospital by ambulance with an abdominal injury after she was shot by her 12-year-old brother at an address on SH2, just north of Wairoa, on Sunday afternoon.

The Lowe Corporation rescue helicopter transferred the girl to Hawke's Bay Hospital for surgery on Sunday night.

A hospital spokeswoman said the girl was discharged yesterday afternoon.

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Hawke's Bay Today approached a number of Wairoa locals yesterday who were unwilling to talk about the incident.

Senior Sergeant Tony Bates said police were investigating, particularly how the air rifle ended up in the hands of the children.

Senior Sergeant Luke Shadbolt said people had a tendency to treat air rifles like toys but they could cause injury.

"The rules that apply to any other firearm should be applied and air rifles should certainly be kept out of reach of children."

Mr Shadbolt said it "is not uncommon" for people to be injured through the irresponsible use of an air rifle.

A person over 18 did not need a firearms licence to buy an air rifle, while a person under 18 did require a licence, he said. Firing an air gun 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.