Her arms bound and with a bedsheet tied over her head, a 77-year-old woman played dead to scare off a masked man who attacked and robbed her at knifepoint in a brazen daylight home invasion.
Police are hunting the man who barged through the backdoor of the woman's Papatoetoe home as she went outside to get her laundry at 1pm on Wednesday.
The elderly woman, who moved to New Zealand from Fiji 20 years ago, was bruised and in shock after the ordeal and her family yesterday appealed to the public to help identify the "sick" assailant.
"I want that guy to be caught. If he's done it to her he'll do it to someone else," her son said last night.
Her son, who the Herald has chosen not to name to protect the victim, described his mother's terror and bravery as she fought against the burly intruder.
"She hardly opens the front door. It was at the back and as she opened the door he grabbed her, he had a knife in his hand."
He said the large man, dressed in black and wearing a balaclava, gripped his mother by her arms and pushed her into the nearest room, her bedroom, and used an Indian silk scarf to bind her hands behind her back. He also covered her face.
"The cover sheet from the bed, he put it on her head. There are bruises on her face. The knots were so tight on her neck.
"She's really tough, she fought everything. He tried to do everything and she was yelling at him, 'no, no, no'. After that he tried to pull her from the bed and [he] dropped her on the ground and pulled her down the corridor.
"She stopped her breath so he thought she was dead. That's when he left."
The woman lives with her son and his wife, who regularly make telephone checks on her when they are not home. On Wednesday, her son phoned about 3pm and became worried when she did not answer.
"The first call she didn't pick up, so I rang again in 10 to 15 minutes and she'd pulled her hand from the scarf knot and was crying on the phone."
He dialled 111 and sped home from his Manukau workplace, arriving at the same time as police. "I helped the police untie her."
His mother was taken to Middlemore Hospital where she stayed overnight for full body x-rays and a CT scan. She returned home yesterday morning with extensive bruising to her arms, neck and face, her son said.
The intruder stole cash, ripped the woman's valuable gold necklace from her neck and pulled thick gold bangles off her wrists.
But laptop computers and other valuables were left untouched.
The family are worried about their mother's welfare and want to move to another neighbourhood. "We were talking about the fear ... and I am just thinking, 'How is she bearing this'?"
Police were dismayed by the attack, the latest in a spate of crimes targeting the elderly.
Detective Sergeant Simon Beal of Counties Manukau CIB said: "We are appalled at the violent nature of this crime during broad daylight."
He appealed for anyone who saw suspicious behaviour in the area of Huia Rd, Stonex Rd, Bernard St and Kimpton Rd to contact police.
In November, a man faced charges after another 77-year-old Papatoetoe woman was sexually assaulted in her home. The attack came only days after a brutal home invasion in Pukekohe where an elderly couple were assaulted and tied up and the sexual assault of an 87-year-old Hastings grandmother who was dragged into her lounge while checking her mail.
• Contact: Call Detective Sergeant Simon Beal of the Counties Manukau CIB on 09 261 1321 or speak anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.