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The body of Melissa Ann Neale was recovered from Cashel Mall, where she was eating lunch with her mother moments before the earthquake devastated Christchurch.

Melissa, 41, a twin, was identified through personal belongings recovered from her body.

Brother-in-law Campbell Read said Melissa had a small garden behind her cottage in Wellington's Island Bay.

"That was her haven."


He said she was also "mad keen" about her dog, Charlie.

"She was a much-loved auntie to her nieces and nephew."

Lisa Green counted Melissa as a "very, very close friend".

She said Melissa loved to travel and enjoyed gourmet food.

"All her friends are devastated. She is a true friend... it sounds a cliche... She will leave a big hole in the future. We don't have her to call for her input."

Penny Lewis, another friend of Melissa, said: "She had lots of friends all over the country."

Ms Lewis described Melissa as a conscientious worker who loved to travel and spent several years working on superyachts.