From an early age Shelley Mather was "fuelled by a love of words and reading", a love which ranged from the Latin classics to the manic comedy of The Goon Show.

As a child she cried for hours after reading E.B. White's book Charlotte's Web.

Her love of words, the Goons and Latin were among the memories shared by her aunt, Bernadette Hall yesterday.

The 26-year-old "adventurer and traveller" was the only New Zealander to die in the London bombings. A memorial service will be held for her in London tomorrow.

Details for a service in New Zealand are yet to be finalised but her parents will bring her body home later this week. A coroner's inquest begins on Wednesday.

Ms Mather's body was formally identified by police on Saturday, the worst news for family and friends.

"It was terrible waiting. Now it's just a chance for the wonderful person that was Shelley to be known a little better," Ms Hall said.

The last time Ms Hall saw her niece was in Auckland last year. "Like so many Kiwi girls going offshore to the UK she had grown into a very elegant young woman. From going off like an adventurer she had got that European elegance; you could see it in her hairstyle and lovely fashion sense."

Ms Hall remembered her niece as an "extraordinarily determined" little girl with a very sharp brain.

"If you put her in the pushchair and she thought you were going in the wrong direction she would perform until you changed direction.

"She was very logical and loved competition and puzzle games. [She was] pretty scary to play as a little girl because she would usually beat you."

Ms Hall, who lives at Amberley Beach north of Christchurch, said she and her niece shared a love of The Goon Show and Ms Mather could mimic the characters with ease. Both had studied Latin and Ms Hall would send translations of Winnie the Pooh.

"I remember as a little girl she came to visit with a copy of Charlotte's Web, the story of the spider that died. When she got to the end of the book she cried for about five hours because the book was so intensely in her imagination."

Her imagination was matched by an "incredible memory", whether it was recalling how a game of cricket went or her love of history, particularly ancient history.

"She was great as a Contiki guide because she had this depth of knowledge she just got very speedily. You don't get much time for that but she was so sharp."

When news came that Ms Mather had died in the London bombings, it left her friends in New Zealand wondering about the random nature of a beast which took one person they knew out of the millions in London.

For Mark Twidle, Ms Mather's death meant the loss of a friend who had seen him through the most difficult time of his life. They met at indoor cricket and they went out for about three years.

"During that time my mum had cancer, and Shelley was supportive of me and my family. All I can say is how loving and supportive she was."

Mark had since married but had kept in touch with Ms Mather, who sent emails to her cricket gang.

"On the Saturday night of the last rugby test, I thought I hadn't heard from her. I got a phone call from someone else who had heard about a missing New Zealander and then the newspaper mentioned Bernadette Hall. So I knew it was true.

"Then you hope the report is wrong, but it wasn't. It felt like I was in a nightmare."

Friends in New Zealand last saw her in March when she came home to be bridesmaid at best friend Jacqui Riley's wedding.

Fellow bridesmaid Donna Kelly met Ms Mather as a 15-year-old and introduced her to indoor cricket.

"When you think there's 12 million people in London and one Kiwi girl gets hit. Out of all those people, who would think you would know that one? It's pretty hard for all of us to take."

Ms Mather's mother, Kathryn Gilkison, was a stand-up comedian "and when she's ready to go back to it, we've vowed we will support that and stay in touch".

A group gathered in Auckland on Friday night to remember her and have a few drinks, said old friend Bridget Shaw.

Ms Shaw had known Shelley since 1996, when their indoor cricket team won the 1996 Superleague finals, partly helped by a "blinder of a game" from Shelley who was called in to replace an injured player.

Stories of Shelley's early cricketing days still provoked much mirth, said Ms Kelly.

"When she tried to throw overarm, it would either go straight up in the air or behind her. It didn't matter what we did she couldn't throw overarm. But she had a powerful underarm throw. She'd thrown underarm from half way, and the guys would just run because it was a lot faster than they thought and could go in any direction. When Shelley threw, no one was safe from the ball except her."