Key Points:

Police were last night working through Interpol to try to contact the British family of a Whangarei woman shot dead after a hostage drama.

The woman, named by TV3 last night as Lee Jane Mettam, was shot in the chest by a member of the armed offenders squad on Thursday after she pointed an air rifle at a police officer.

She had been holding a Vodafone staff member, 29-year-old Son Taylor, hostage for up to an hour before she was killed and had ignored several negotiation attempts by police.

It has also been revealed Mettam had been involved in a scuffle with police last Tuesday outside a branch of The Warehouse in Whangarei.

TV3 reported Mettam had been trying to steal money from a Vodafone staff member's daughter.

"Again, that'll be something that will be examined through the investigation, as to going back and retracing her movements, not only [on Thursday] but in the days leading up to this incident," acting district commander Inspector Chris Scahill said.

Police have said the woman had no known family in New Zealand. The Weekend Herald understands Mettam was in her 40s, and had previously come to police attention.

In Whangarei, speculation was rife yesterday about why Mettam entered the store in the first place.

The Weekend Herald has been told she went to the store looking for a salesman whose daughter allegedly owed her money. The salesman's family said they would not discuss the allegations.

Police would not say whether Mettam knew anyone in the store but said she took some money from the cash register. One man said the woman tried to rob the store of cash and some phones.

"He [the salesman] gave her the money and asked her what sort of phones she wanted."

Five other staff members were also originally in the Vodafone store when the woman first entered. They all managed to escape out a back door.

Police say it will be some time before their investigations are completed. Until then they will be releasing few other details about what happened.

Mettam's body was in Auckland last night where a pathologist was to carry out a post-mortem examination.