The sister of the Northland gunman said the shooting was a "terrible thing for all involved" and says she believed he killed himself because of the tragic nature of his actions.

"It's a tragic thing to happen. He [shooter Quinn Patterson] would have thought what he did was terrible and that's why he killed himself. He was never of that nature. Physically hurting people deliberately - no, it was never his thing," she said of her brother.

She said Patterson had cleaned himself up and had been turning his life around over the last 15 years but had been struggling with suicidal thoughts in recent months.

"He was doing well at work and things were getting better until recently."

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She and her brother were quite close and spoke often - he called her and left a message for the last time late yesterday morning.

Quinn Patterson, the man responsible for shooting Wendy Campbell and daughter Natanya in Whangarei yesterday. Photo / Supplied
Quinn Patterson, the man responsible for shooting Wendy Campbell and daughter Natanya in Whangarei yesterday. Photo / Supplied

Patterson shot and killed Wendy Campbell and her daughter, Natanya, about 10.50am yesterday during what police say was a routine property inspection.

Contractor Jeff Pipe, who was with the women, was also shot but managed to get away. He remains in Whangarei Hospital in a stable condition.

Police fired tear gas into the home but the gunman fired several shots back. Police returned fire.

Soon after the exchange, thick dark smoke started to billow from the house and before long it was "fully engulfed" in flames.

Police were scheduled to remove the women's bodies from the scene this afternoon.

Police confirmed this evening that they have recovered human remains from the scene, which, based on the circumstances, they believe may belong to Patterson.

Northland District Commander Superintendent Russell Le Prou said yesterday's events had understandably sent shock waves through the community.

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"The victims were just simply doing their job when the offender has suddenly turned on them. Police are doing everything we can to support their families during this difficult time.

"Our AOS and police staff did everything they could and, despite knowing there was an active shooter in the immediate vicinity, AOS have still entered the property to see if there was any chance they could save Wendy and Natanya," Le Prou said.

"AOS staff formed a shield around medically trained police staff but tragically there was nothing we could do.

"Given the danger posed to them they have then sought cover. They put their lives in danger yesterday and I am proud of the professionalism they showed in a volatile and changing situation."

Exclusive footage by the Herald can reveal the full extent of the crime scene north of Whangarei.

Smoke and embers could still be seen coming from the remains of the home along Mt Tiger Rd, which was razed to the ground after it caught fire following an exchange of gunfire between a gunman inside and police.

Armed police guarding the scene of the double homicide can also be seen in the Herald's footage, shot early this morning.

Another building on the property, which appears to be a work shed or sleepout, has seemingly escaped the fire which burned out of control due to the threat the gunman posed to firefighters.

The home is situated on a lifestyle block and surrounded by farmland and dense bush.

Leah Cameron, who has known Patterson for seven years, said he had few friends and had struggled with "very dark" depression for a long time.

He had tried various forms of medication, sleeping pills and natural therapies, though they had little effect.

The property on Mt Tiger Rd was his "peaceful place" where he went to get away from the world. She believed recent changes with his living situation may have sent him spiralling into a depressive episode.

Around a fortnight ago Patterson sent her a final text, saying that everything he loved had been torn from him and there was "no light at the end of the tunnel".

"Looking over my life, I see everything I love torn from me. I don't want to be here ... I'm continually struggling. This life is just a continual struggle without end or point and I'm done with it," he wrote.

"Each day I wake and realise to my dismay that I'm still here."

WHERE TO GET HELP:

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call 111.

If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:

DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
LIFELINE: 0800 543 354
NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234

There are lots of places to get support.
For others, visit: https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/in-crisis/helplines/