A 71-year-old Kawerau woman brutally bashed in her home during the early hours of Saturday morning has been described as remarkable by police.
Detective Inspector Tim Anderson said the woman suffered a broken cheekbone and possible broken nose in the "serious and nasty" attack.
Although the woman was happy to have a photo of her injuries release to the media to show the extent of her injuries, Mr Anderson said she was not prepared to be named at this stage.
"She's a strong lady who has been able to provide us with a vague description of the offender and who is rallying well with the support of family and friends from the Kawerau community," Mr Anderson said.
"We believe she will be released from Whakatane Hospital within the next day or two."
Police said the woman was waiting on the arrival of a family member from overseas when she opened her door to a man at 1am.
"The door was pushed open and she was punched at least twice in the face before the offender demanded money then grabbed her car keys and left the address at speed," Mr Anderson said. No money was taken.
The car, a Mitsubishi station wagon, was found a short time later in bush and near a river."
When asked by the Daily Post if the incident was related to the theft of two or three other cars in Kawerau that had later been found dumped in rivers and streams, Mr Anderson said police were checking to see if it was.
Mr Anderson was not prepared to say whether the woman lived on her own or whether she had been able to call emergency services herself.
Kawerau Mayor Malcolm Campbell said he had been stopped on his way to work on Saturday morning by a member of the community.
"The man told me he had had a gutsful of the people who were pinching cars in Kawerau," Mr Campbell said.
"I'm sure he'll be even more angry now considering the victim of this attack is a friend of his."
Mr Campbell said the victim was a strong lady who was well liked within the Kawerau community.
"Her parents were one of the first families to set up a home here [in 1954] after her father secured work with Fletchers. She moved away for a while then returned to Kawerau with her husband."
She is a well-respected person in sporting circles and for her voluntary work.
He said people had to bear in mind attacks like this were happening all around the country and it should not reflect on the Kawerau community.
Mr Anderson also agreed, describing Kawerau as a neat place with lots of community spirited people.
"The victim is very strong-minded and I'm sure she will have her say when she feels the time is right.
"We are appealing to the people of Kawerau to come forward. Someone will know something and they need to think about how they would feel if the victim was their mother or grandmother," Mr Anderson said.
Officer in charge of the case, Detective Constable Ash Clements of Whakatane police, said anyone with information could contact Kawerau police (07) 323 1400 or Whakatane police (07) 308 5255.
Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously via the free Crimestoppers phone line 0800 111 555.