An elderly woman is recovering in hospital after being attacked in her own home.

Whakatane police say the 71-year-old from Kawerau unwittingly opened the front door to the attacker, mistaking the man for a relative she was expecting from overseas.

Detective Constable Ash Clements says the man assaulted her after she refused to give him cash - leaving her covered in blood and on the floor of her home on River Road.

The man then took off in her car - but police have since recovered the vehicle and it's now with their forensics team.


Detective Constable Clements is appealing for any information about the attack - which he describes as both callous and cowardly.

Kawerau police are asking people to contact them on 07 323 1400, or Whakatane police 07 308 5255 if you have any information about the attack.

Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously via the free Crimestoppers phone line, phone 0800 111 555.