Key Points:

A 13-year-old Manawatu boy shot in the head with an air rifle is speaking and out of intensive care but still has the pellet in his head.

The Feilding boy and his 13-year-old friend were checking why the .22 calibre rifle had not discharged properly when the friend pulled the trigger, firing the pellet though the boy's eye socket.

The injured boy's family today issued a statement from his bedside at Wellington Hospital.

"Our son's condition is now stable and he has been moved out of the intensive care unit and into the ward.

"This is a huge leap forward and we, along with the medical team, are very pleased with his progress," they said, five days after Sunday's accident.

"The pellet remains in his head as it is too dangerous to attempt to remove it at this time.

"He has been able to talk and respond to us and to the medical team, which has been great, and we will continue to be by his side."

The family have said they do not blame the friend who accidentally fired the rifle but police say it is a tragic reminder of the dangers posed by any firearm.

- NZPA