Leanne Kingston was a doting mother-of-four who was going through a tough time.
The 39-year-old shared custody of her children - aged 8, 14, 16, and 19 - with their father, her on-and-off partner, who she had just broken up with again.
On Monday the children waited patiently at school, but their mother never came to collect them. Ms Kingston, one of triplets, was found dead by her sister in the bathroom of her modest Papakura home about 4pm.
Friend and neighbour Margaret Tate said she and the children's father couldn't live together, but couldn't stay apart.
"They used to have time out, he would go out of the country or to the South Island for a while," she said.
Now the children are being cared for by relatives. Victim Support is speaking to them and Ms Kingston's extended family.
Neighbours told police they heard noises and the sound of glass breaking in the house about 12.45pm on Monday.
Ms Tate said Ms Kingston was found in the bathroom, which she had been cleaning, with a smashed window nearby.
Police have confirmed a window in the house was broken and there were other "obvious signs of violence".
"Our initial assessment of the scene was some sort of violence had taken place," said Detective Inspector Mark Gutry.
Another neighbour, Des Hubbard, said police knocked on his door on Monday night asking to search the premises.
"They came over because they had heard a man had come through the property," he said.
Police have spoken to several people, including the children's father.
"There was shared custody and they did stay between the two addresses. And that's gone on for a number of years, as I understand. We haven't discounted anyone at this stage," said Mr Gutry.
Residents said there had been a rash of break-ins in the area.
One woman - who had been the victim of a home invasion and did not want to be named - was worried about other solo mothers in the street.
"It puts the message out there. Get a dog," she said.
Yesterday, forensic experts and detectives scoured the property and spoke to neighbours.
Police said friends and family of the dead woman would be interviewed to try to determine her movements. Other addresses connected with the woman were also being examined.
Asked if her killer was someone she knew, Mr Gutry said police were keeping an open mind.
"We're looking at all options, looking at everything."
That information would determine which direction the inquiry took, he said.
A post-mortem examination is expected to be completed today.