Key Points:

A leading New Zealand family law expert believes the death of An An Liu highlights the problems immigrants have in understanding how protection orders work when they are victims of domestic violence.

Women's Refuge revealed this week that An An and her three-year-old daughter Qian spent some time last year in the Shakti Asian Women's Refuge in Auckland last year.

The pair went to the refuge in September, spending about a month before Ms Liu, 27, decided to leave.

While at the refuge, Ms Liu was given information and help on how to obtain a protection and parenting order but left before the orders were finalised and did not provide a forwarding address.

It is understood that because of this the protection order could not be served on Ms Liu's husband, Nai Yin Xue. It is not known if Ms Liu understood that even though she was returning to her husband, she could still have sought a protection order against him.

Chief executive of the National Collective of Independent Women's Refuges Heather Henare said it was important women knew they did not have to be at a refuge in order to get the help and support they offered.

She encouraged all women thinking of taking out a protection order to understand what is involved with the process and how an order works.

It was hard for the women who chose to leave to then decide to return to a situation where they were at risk.

Ms Henare said An An should not be judged for returning to her husband. She wanted to resolve things with her husband, which was her choice.

"It's not just about leaving him, it's about leaving her family, lifestyle, culture."