Police haven't ruled out buying back guns stolen from them

Police haven't ruled out paying for the return of guns stolen from right under their noses.

It was revealed last month that 11 guns were stolen from the Palmerston North police station when a door was left open.

A man was arrested and eight guns were returned, but there are now questions about how the police got those guns back.

Police Minister Stuart Nash has insisted it's a matter for police so he's refusing to answer if police paid for the return of the stolen guns, and police are also refusing to confirm, chalking it up as an ongoing investigation.

But by failing to clear this up, it's left the issue wide-open to accusations that police used taxpayer money to buy back guns stolen from police.

National's police spokesperson Chris Bishop asked Nash in Parliament on Wednesday: "Did police pay for the return of some or all of the eight guns that have now been recovered?"

Nash replied: "I will say again, that member will have to ask police for the background about how they recovered the firearms."

The accusations come as the Government kicks off its major gun buyback programme which clearly says money won't change hands for illegal firearms.

The Government announced a buyback scheme after banning military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles, in light of the March 15 Christchurch terror attack.

If there has been a pay-out from police it could have been in the form of a reward for information, for example. But police and the Government have shut up shop, avoiding any questions about it.

In a statement on Wednesday, Bishop said Nash "needs to be honest about what has happened".

"It would be deeply embarrassing for the Government's gun buyback scheme to start by paying criminals for weapons stolen from a police station."