Relatives of a woman who lay in her Remuera house for several days after she died say she was in regular contact with them, and not undisturbed for several weeks as previously thought.

Workmen discovered the body of Nancy Blight, 85, in her house on Kelvin Rd, Remuera on Friday morning. The roofing contractors noticed they hadn't seen her for a few days, and that mail was piling up in her letterbox.

Police said on Friday that Blight appeared to have been dead "for some time prior to being found". However, her niece and nephew, who did not wish to be named, said Blight had been in contact with her son John only a few days before.

"She was well-loved, and we'd had a big family gathering here quite recently," her niece told the Herald.

Advertisement

Blight had lived in the house all her life, one of three generations of the family to live there. She was a nurse before her retirement, and until three months ago she had been caring for her husband, who had suffered dementia for several years.

Keith Blight, a well-known potter, used to make art from a studio at the house, but died on May 8 this year. The couple are survived by son John and daughter, Priscilla, who is flying back from the United States for her mother's funeral.

The cause of Nancy Blight's death was unknown, police said today, but the case has been referred to the coroner.

The house is in the throes of renovation, with new carpet being laid recently as well as the roof being under restoration. The hedges are neatly trimmed, and camellias and other flowers bloom in the well-kept garden.

Blight's neighbours said she had not been unchecked for long.

"It was only about a day," said one woman.

The incident follows the death in July of a Mosgiel woman, found two weeks later, after neighbours called the police.

Last month a Whangarei woman under community mental health care was reportedly found dead, having not been seen for weeks.

Advertisement

Age Concern chief executive Stephanie Clare said neighbours should have noticed.

"It could be that her family is overseas but this person lives in a community with people around them and we all have responsibility as neighbours," she told the Herald on Friday.

"There's nothing wrong with knocking on someone's door and saying hello."

Clare said neighbours didn't want to appear "busybodies", but she said there was a fine balance.

"We need to be more vigilant. Mail in the letterbox would have alerted the neighbours - does this person need a check up?"