Wellington woman Margaret Page, whose decision to starve herself sparked widespread debate across New Zealand, has died.

Her death, at 7.30pm, was confirmed by the St John of God Haurora Trust, who owns the St John of God Wellington residential care home where she was staying.

Mrs Page, who was disabled and terminally ill, starved herself to death by refusing to eat for 17 days.

The 60-year-old suffered a cerebral haemorrhage 20 years ago and no longer wanted to live.

Staff at the care home respected the decision as her right but her husband was critical of staff for not doing enough to keep her alive.

St John of God spokesman Ralph La Salle, says staff continued to provide a high level of care for Mrs Page prior to her death and she maintained her resolve to refuse food until the very end.

Voluntary euthanasia activist and Dignity New Zealand founder Lesley Martin said it was sad Mrs Page was forced to starve herself to achieve the end she wanted.

"I'm pleased she had the strong degree of support that she did, but I'm sad that this is the best we can offer people in her situation," she told Fairfax Media.

Australian euthanasia proponent Dr Philip Nitschke said her death was a tragedy.

Dr Nitschke, from the euthanasia group Exit International, wants for elderly and sick New Zealanders to establish an exit plan while they are still able.

He said it was disgusting that the only option Margaret had left was to deny herself fluids and food and engage in a macabre process of slow torture and death, he said.

'John Hammond, the Exit appointed lawyer for Australian quadriplegic Chris Rossiter has made it clear that in extreme cases, starvation is a legal option of last resort, but planning ahead can reduce the need to ever go down this path.'

Dr Nitschke says when a person's quality of life get so bad that death is their chosen course, they should be able to go to the cupboard and legally take the drugs that will give them a peaceful and reliable death.

- NEWSTALK ZB