Key Points:

Ngatai manning left home at 9.30pm to head off to work - a Christchurch street corner where she plied her trade as a prostitute.

There, on the corner of Peterborough and Manchester streets, witnesses reported seeing the diminutive 27-year-old touting for business until about 10.30pm on Thursday.

The next time she was seen was just after dawn on Friday - when a kayaker found her body floating in the Avon River.

Street corner prostitution is a dangerous line of work, and Manning was found just metres from the spot where the body of a 24-year-old prostitute was found in December 2005.

Police said yesterday that Manning - known as Mallory - died from "extensive" injuries and was then dumped in the river.

Her partner and family were "absolutely devastated", said Detective Inspector Greg Williams. The partner had not known where she was - until police announced on Friday night that a body had been found.

A large number of prostitutes work on and around Manchester St.

Williams said it was common for the prostitutes to be picked up in vehicles. They would often take their clients to specific areas but nothing of note had been found in those places.

Manning had been an intravenous drug user from the age of 14, and a prostitute since she was 15. In 1999, she was sentenced to 18 months jail for stabbing a shop assistant with a blood-filled syringe during a robbery.

Police were searching the Avon last night for clues about her death, including a murder weapon.

"As yet we have not been able to identify where Mallory went into the river or where she was attacked," Williams said.

Police have searched several addresses and were particularly interested in a house near where the body was found.

Manning was found wearing a short red skirt, black cardigan, a blue bikini top with white dots and was shoeless. Her watch was stopped at 11 o'clock, and her handbag still slung over her shoulder.