The husband of ex-National party president Judy Kirk has died in what police believe was a hunting accident on his Taupo farm.
A preliminary investigation has found Roger Kirk, 64, accidentally shot himself some time before 11am at his rural property on the outskirts of the town.
His body was found by a neighbour in a block of pine trees on the property, police said.
Taupo CIB Detective Senior Sergeant Todd Pearce said Mr Kirk may have shot himself during a fall.
The death has now been referred to the coroner.
Prime Minister John Key said he was "shocked and saddened" by Mr Kirk's sudden death.
"I have known Roger as long as I have known Judy, and counted him as a friend.
"Along with Judy, he was a good friend of the National Party. I would like to express my deepest condolences to Roger's family, friends and colleagues at this time."
Taupo Mayor Rick Cooper, who was also good friends with the Kirk family, told NZPA Mr Kirk's death was tragic news for the family.
"I know he was very pedantic on fire arms, it's just so sad to have lost such a neat guy," Mr Cooper said.
Mr Kirk's step-daughter, Anna Kirk, is a councillor on the Taupo District Council, and Mr Cooper had known the family for more than 35 years, he said.
The council would do anything they could to support Mr Kirk's family in this "terrible time".
- NZHERALD STAFF, NZPA