A 34-year-old woman appeared in court today following the death of a 2-year-old Northland girl at the weekend.

The woman faced a charge of assault in the Auckland District Court. The death of the toddler has sparked a police homicide inquiry.

When she appeared in the dock she was blowing kisses and saying "I love you" to her family in the public gallery.

She held her hands to her face while she cried, and appeared to be saying a prayer.

Bail was not sought, and the woman has been remanded to appear in Auckland District Court on August 31.

The toddler was taken to Kaitaia Hospital about 4.30am on Saturday, then flown to the Starship in Auckland, where she died about 11am.

Police are not saying what sort of injuries the girl had but a post-mortem examination today is expected to establish the cause of death.

The toddler is believed to have lived in Kaitaia with her parents, an older sister and a baby brother.

The family had rented the house for only about two months.

A neighbour said she had heard yelling and screaming coming from the house several times and told the police this when they came to her house on Saturday night.

However, she hadn't heard anything on Friday or Saturday.

She said she didn't know the family well. But another neighbour said the family did not seem out of the ordinary. "They just seemed like a normal family. We always saw the kids out playing and doing normal stuff."

Police were at the girl's home yesterday conducting a scene examination and speaking to neighbours and relatives.

"There are still a significant number of friends and family to be spoken to in getting a detailed background picture of the environment the deceased and her family lived in," Senior Sergeant Geoff Ryan of Kaitaia said.

"This is a tragic time for the family and we will be respecting the need for the family to have time to cope with what has happened.

"Police have spoken to some of the family members of the deceased who have been co-operative and we will continue to conduct inquiries with the immediate family in an attempt to piece together exactly what has occurred."

About 30 police officers from Kaitaia and Auckland are working on the investigation.

The girl had not been publicly identified last night as some members of her wider family had still to be told of her death.

A police spokeswoman would not say what relationship the woman who has been charged with assault had with the girl or whether she lived locally.