The scene where an Upper Hutt mother died in a brutal axe attack remains cordoned off today, with investigators combing the area.
The violent assault happened on Thursday night in the quiet suburb of Timberlea - just two weeks before Christmas.
At the end of it a 55-year-old woman was dead, her 20-year-old son and another 24-year-old man were hospitalised with serious injuries, and the woman's friend was injured.
Friends believe the warm-hearted mother, who had worked and lived in the community for 30 years died protecting her son.
Upper Hutt 36-year-old, Retimana Te Korou Nicholls appeared in Hutt Valley District Court yesterday charged with murder, grievous bodily harm, wounding and assault.
He was remanded in custody until next month, when he would reappear in the High Court at Wellington.
Judge Antony Walsh granted interim suppression of the victims' names.
Two large police tents have been set up on the property and the crime scenes remain marked off with police tape.
There is a heavy police presence at the site as investigators piece together Thursday night's events.
The Timberlea Community House was opened up yesterday for friends of the victims to support each other.
One community member, who organised the gathering, and did not want to be named, said she and others who knew the woman believed she would have done anything she could to protect her son from the attack.
"She was very protective of her son."
The community was "in mourning" over the death, she said.
"[The woman] was very supportive of the community, and the stuff she did in the community were the acts of someone who wanted to be a part of something that would have a huge effect on the community."
The deceased woman did home care and looked after vulnerable people - she would open her home to anyone in need, the community worker said.
"She was always trying to do things for people in the community."
A Timberlea man, who also did not wish to be named, said he had known the victim for between 10 to 15 years.
"She was the kind of person that, when she put her mind to whatever she was going to do, she was going to do it.
"I always thought that she would give her heart to anything -- if you asked her to do something she'd be there to do it that's the sort of person she was."
He said they knew each other from living in the Timberlea community, and spending time at the Timberlea Community House.
"She was working with people who needed help, they might of been people who needed help to clean their houses and working with people like that.
"She was a keen spirited lady who was always ready to help."
Police spokesman Nick Bohm said the two injured men underwent surgery yesterday and police hoped to speak with them yesterday afternoon.
He would not confirm whether the woman had died protecting her son.
The attack was not random, with Nicholls knowing the mother, her son and the other young man, he said.
Detective Inspector Darrin Thomson said it was "a terrible terrible tragedy so close to Christmas".
He said there were "multiple" crime scenes for police to examine for evidence.
It was a "very nasty attack", Mr Thomson said.
"We have two people seriously injured but not life threatening, we have one deceased person, again a terrible tragedy at this time of year."