A 3-year-old girl survived on leftover lasagne, cheese and milk from the fridge after her mother died suddenly, leaving the child alone in their house for two days.
Lauren Silbery's body was found in her Upper Hutt home on October 21 after police went to the house when her worried family realised they had not heard from her for two nights.
The 28-year-old was found face down next to her bed. Police do not believe her death was suspicious.
Her daughter, Shylah Silbery, survived by eating food from the fridge.
When she was rescued after at least two days alone, she said: "Mummy won't wake up."
The little girl dragged a coffee table to the door to stand on so she could unlock it for the police.
Lauren's mother, Heather Silbery, told the Herald yesterday that Shylah had coped brilliantly with a traumatic experience.
"She got the milk out of the fridge for a drink. Her mum had some leftovers in the fridge and she's eaten those."
She ate lasagne and cheese but was dehydrated by the time police came to the door, and needed hospital treatment.
They were alerted by Heather Silbery and Lauren's brother Pete, 24, who were worried they hadn't heard from her for two days.
Mr Silbery said he spoke to his sister on the phone each night, and he was concerned when she didn't call.
He asked a friend who lived nearby to check on her. When the friend got to the Whakatiki St house, it was locked and quiet. Shylah was visible through the cat door, but her mother could not be seen.
After the friend described the scene to the family, they called 111.
A police officer saw Shylah inside the house and told her to open the door by standing on the coffee table.
"We didn't think she would manage but she did, and she took the chain off the front door."
Ms Silbery said the family were coping.
"We're ... staying positive because there is a little girl involved."
The fact her granddaughter was left alone "is what really rips into me the most ... Just how resourceful my little granddaughter was. She was brilliant," Ms Silbery said.
After she was found, Shylah was taken to Hutt Hospital, where she was treated for the dehydration and severe nappy rash.
Ms Silbery said Shylah was missing her normal spark and knew her mother wasn't coming back.
"She knows her mummy won't wake up. When we had her at home, she held her and rubbed her arm and said, 'Mummy's gone'. And when they lowered the coffin, she said, 'Mummy's in there'."
Lauren's funeral was held a week ago. Mr Silbery said his sister was the most "loving caring person" and a great mother.
"One hundred per cent of her energy, time and everything went into making sure Shylah had everything she needed. I don't think me and mum realised how good she really was until we were clearing out her things and saw all the toys she got for her."
She provided for her daughter while living on a benefit.
"We were blown away. She put Shylah well before herself."
The mysterious circumstances of the death and Shylah being alone for so long were "eating me up", he said.
Police told him the fact Lauren was face down next to her bed was consistent with her having a heart attack or stroke and falling out of bed.
But until autopsy results were known, no one was sure of the exact cause.
While her mother's death was being investigated, Shylah was in the care of Child, Youth and Family, but a family member hopes to get custody of her.