Margaret Page, who died this week after starving herself for 16 days, should have been able to die humanely if that's what she wanted, a voluntarily euthanasia activist says.

Dignity New Zealand founder Lesley Martin said yesterday that it was sad Mrs Page had to starve herself to achieve the end she wanted.

Ms Martin said that when someone made a "clear and competent decision" to die, they needed to be supported in a more humane way than what Mrs Page had to endure.

Mrs Page, 60, began refusing food early last month and died on Tuesday night. Twenty years ago, she suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and was cared for by her husband Barry Page until 2006, when she went to live at the St John of God care home in Wellington.

Ms Martin said 16 days was a long time to go without food and the media attention had placed additional pressure on Mrs Page.

She had spoken to her daughter, Cindy, and offered advice. "She told me 10 days ago that [Margaret] was only able to answer yes or no."

St John of God chief executive Ralph La Salle said staff and residents were deeply saddened by Mrs Page's death.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs Page and her family and have been throughout the past weeks - a time which has been exceptionally difficult and emotional for Mrs Page, her family, other residents, staff and everyone who knew her," Mr La Salle said.

Food and water had been offered to Mrs Page by staff members whenever they went into her room and at regular intervals. In addition, a staff member had been dedicated to Mrs Page's care during the last period of her life.

Mr La Salle said she maintained her resolve to refuse food until the very end of her life.