The grieving son-in-law of a elderly woman found dead in her house where a burglary is believed to have taken place says her body is lying outside a bedroom.

Forensic police continue to search through a house in Avondale, West Auckland, where the 82-year-old was found dead yesterday.

The woman may have had a heart attack after thieves broke into her property, her grieving family believe.

Staff in white overalls and masks could be seen this afternoon scouring through various items being bagged and brought out on to the front yard of the St Georges Rd house.

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Police were continuing to treat her death as unexplained, Auckland City West CIB acting Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Franich said.

Police were awaiting results from a post-mortem which was expected to be carried out tomorrow.

"Police have previously said there had been a burglary at the address but we still do not have any evidence to link the burglary and death of this woman at this time.

"However we are keeping an open mind as our investigation continues."

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Police investigate death of elderly woman at Avondale home
Break-in triggered elderly Auckland woman's heart attack, family believe

A car parked in the driveway was also being dusted for fingerprints and a police guard was at the scene.

The woman's son-in-law told Stuff she was in good health and her death remains a mystery.

Her body was lying outside a bedroom and contents from the house were strewn over the floor.

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"It's not a good scene man," said the man, who would only be identified as "Mr Ram".

He believed an intruder had broken into the home yesterday afternoon and the woman - who came to New Zealand in 2006 - is believed to have died shortly after.

It was unclear whether the woman was attacked and when her body would be released.

Police confirmed yesterday they were investigating a break-in at the house but couldn't say whether it was linked to the woman's death.

Franich this afternoon asked anyone with information to call Avondale Police Station on
(09) 302 6400.

"Our thoughts and sympathies continue to be with the woman's family. Police, along with Victim Support are supporting them at this difficult time," he said.

The Avondale home where a woman was found dead yesterday remains a crime scene. Photo / NZME
The Avondale home where a woman was found dead yesterday remains a crime scene. Photo / NZME

The Herald understands a male family member entered the house just before 4pm yesterday to find the woman lying dead on the floor, the house in disarray and belongings strewn on the ground.

It's understood the woman's body was still inside the house today.

"Police believe there had been a burglary at the address, however we are still treating the death as unexplained," Franich said.

"We have no evidence at this point to link the burglary and death of this woman, however we are keeping an open mind as our investigation progresses."

A large group of family members arrived just before 1pm.They hugged and cried together, at times inconsolable.

As one woman hugged another, she cried into her shoulder and called out "mama".

A relative said it was "so sad" what had happened and they just wanted to know what police were doing now.

A police officer passed the family cat to its owners. However, as it was being put into a car, it managed to escape and ran back into the house and past forensic officers in the doorway. It was brought back outside and into the vehicle.

Family friends Raj and Padma Manikam came out to visit the house today in the hope of catching their good friend, the victim's son.

Raj Manikam said his old mate, who he knew from back home in Fiji, was crying when he phoned to break the news.

"He called me this morning and said, 'My mother passed away'.

"I thought I'd come to see him, see if he needs help."

Manikam said his friend, who works as a cleaner, had been living in New Zealand for about 14 years.

He brought his mother over sometime after arriving in the country.

"They're good people."

Another neighbour told the Herald the woman lived at the house with relatives but was frail and could not move about easily.

Police are investigating the death of an elderly woman at a home where a break-in also occurred. Photo / Hayden Woodward
Police are investigating the death of an elderly woman at a home where a break-in also occurred. Photo / Hayden Woodward

She would spend time at home alone when other family members were at work.

The neighbour said the family were social and would visit other residents on the street to hand out sweets on Indian festivals such as Navaratri and Diwali.

The neighbour said he had spoken to the grieving family after the woman's body was discovered by a male relative earlier in the afternoon.

"He said somebody broke into the house and his mother had a heart attack and passed away."

The neighbour said it was a good area and this was the first time he knew of something like this happening.

He understood the man lived at the house with his mother, wife and daughter.

He confirmed the body was still inside the house about 6.30pm last night.

Tearful family members - understood to include the woman's children and grandchildren - spent hours embracing outside the weatherboard home and consoling each other last night. They did not wish to comment.

The family cat was also locked outside the home and waited with the family.

Close to 7pm, the family ushered each other into cars and drove off together. Police remained at the scene.

Franich said police still needed to make a number of inquiries to establish what happened.

"We are supporting the deceased woman's family and our sympathies are with them at this difficult time," he said.

St John was called at 3.49pm and sent two ambulances, a spokeswoman said. Police said they had been notified around 3.50pm.

A witness at the scene said two detectives had been at the property earlier in the afternoon. Another officer had been standing guard at the rear of the property, which backed onto Chalmers Reserve and the train tracks.