Students and staff at a University of Canterbury halls of residence are in shock after the sudden death of a woman student last night.

Police have confirmed the death is not suspicious and has been referred to the coroner.

Police and ambulance were on the scene at the Rochester and Rutherford Halls of Residence at about 7.30pm.

The halls were initially cordoned off by police. Security guards were also still in place at the halls this morning.


Stephen Kissick, principal of the hall, requested privacy to help all students and family deal with the "tragic loss".

"Rochester and Rutherford Hall community wish to express our deep sadness at the loss of one of our students.

"We are grieving with the family of a bright, wonderful student," Kissick said in a statement.

"We greatly appreciate the work of the police and the university through this difficult time.

"We will continue to support our students with extensive support from our staff, senior tutors, chaplains, the university's student services and Victim Support.

"We are grateful to the many people who have contacted us offering their support and prayers."

Police have said that a post-mortem examination was being carried out into the woman's death, and that once that was completed they might release more details about the incident.

A number of students milling around the front of the halls this morning said that they knew the victim, however they had been told by the university not to comment on what had happened.


Some were gathered in small groups, providing support to those affected by the tragedy.

A foreign exchange student who lived nearby and did not want to be named said that when she walked past the halls at about 7.30pm, the area had already been cordoned off by police, and five or six police cars and an ambulance were in place.

She said that she "couldn't really tell what was happening inside [the halls], but it looked pretty serious".

Where to get help

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.