A Whakatu woman suffered horrific burns after a day-long domestic dispute on Christmas Day.

Emergency services were called to the Hastings home after neighbours reported hearing "screams that somebody was on fire'' after a large cloud of black smoke was seen rising from the back yard where the woman and her partner lived with their daughters.

The 42-year-old woman is in intensive care at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital in a serious but stable condition after suffering burns to a large portion of her body. Her 49-year-old partner suffered burns to his hands and arms and was in a stable condition in a general ward at Hawke's Bay Hospital.

The fire at 7.10pm was the culmination of "very loud'' day-long arguing, a neighbour said.


"We heard her yelling and screaming all day and he was yelling and screaming all day,'' a neighbour said.

"The kids kept coming out and then we saw the smoke ... it wasn't very nice at all. They have quite a few domestics in there but this is the worst they have ever had.''

Police have not yet released any more details on how the couple suffered their burn injuries.

Private security guards were protecting the scene at the Buckingham St property, which features a three-metre steel gate on its driveway.

Police, ESR forensic and New Zealand Fire Safety staff are all conducting investigations.

Items of interest have been seized from the scene to help work out what happened.

A neighbour who rang emergency services was taken to hospital yesterday. A relative said it was because of the upset of the Christmas fire.

"I think it got a bit too much for her because she has heart problems. She is very stressed-out at the moment.''