Police are urging rural gun owners to make sure their guns are kept secure – every time.
In the past two years, firearms have been stolen during a total of 45 burglaries in the Northland policing district.
Of those 45 burglaries, 22 were in the Whangārei area and 23 in the Far North, according to statistics released under the Official Information Act.
Inspector Wayne Ewers is in charge of the firearms operations group for the Northland district.
He said police intelligence indicates that the firearms used by criminals are most often stolen from legitimate owners, sometimes through poor storage.
"We understand that people make mistakes, but it is really important that firearms are put away every time with the ammunition and bolt kept separately.
"Rural landowners are a long way from help and firearms have been stolen in burglaries. We don't want any firearms getting into the wrong hands,'' he said.
Ewers said most people were responsible with their firearms.
However, there were more than 13,000 standard licence holders in Northland and police have been getting feedback that some security is not up to scratch.
"We'll be checking up. Having a firearm is a privilege, not a right,'' he said.
"There are a lot of licensed people in Northland and we want to make sure that they understand all their obligations with the new processes that are coming in.''
A second amnesty on prohibited firearms finished on August 1.
The Arms Act was significantly amended in June last year, with some changes already in effect and others being phased in over the next couple of years, including a registry of firearms.
The penalty for possessing a non-prohibited firearm without a licence is now up to one year in prison or a fine up to $15,000.
Ewers said firearms licence holders needed to have a secure place to store a gun, even if they currently had no firearm.
"Licence holders must have somewhere to store a firearm in their own gun safe which must be bolted to the floor or walls.''
Ewers said it was important that the key to the gun safe be well hidden, even from other family members.
"Kids notice more than you realise and they often find guns fascinating. Keys should not be kept anywhere children could find them,'' he said.
Ewers said all firearms' licence applicants were interviewed in person by an experienced police vetter.
"The vetter comes to the house and interviews the licence applicant and their family members over 18 years of age. Referees and any police history will be checked as well.
"People must be considered fit and proper to hold a licence. We have revoked licences for people who have got in trouble with the police, including for repeat driving offences and any violence or assaults.
"We are constantly checking names in our database for any red flags,'' he said.
Sometimes GPs and family members would approach police with concerns about a licence holder and sometimes the licence holder would hand over their firearms if they were going through a particularly stressful time.
"It doesn't have to be forever though. People can reapply for their licences and have their guns returned when they have had the right medical help."
Anyone over 16 could apply for a firearms licence, which would allow them unsupervised use of shotguns, rifles and powerful air rifles.
Special endorsements were needed for anyone, such as collectors and firearms dealers, who wanted to possess or use prohibited firearms.
Mail order and internet purchases had also been made more strict with written orders needing to be signed by a member of the police after the item had been inspected.
New licences must be renewed every five years. Once renewed, that may be extended to 10 years before the next renewal is needed.
"It's our role to make people feel safe in the community,'' Ewers said.