A mentally impaired woman was mourning the tragic loss of her mother when she wandered off and got lost in Waitākere, sparking a frantic three-day search that drew on hundreds of volunteers.

Michelle Simpson's body was found just 600 metres from the home she shared with parents Elaine and Michael on November 14.

Her funeral will be held on Saturday.

On behalf of the family, Phillip Simpson said in a statement to the Herald the loss of his sister just weeks after the death of his mother had been a "devastating blow".

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Elaine Simpson, 72, died on October 22 after a short illness in which she suffered from toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). TEN is a extremely rare kind of severe skin reaction.

Michelle Simpson, 50, witnessed everything her mother suffered towards the end, and it had affected her deeply - "in hindsight much more than we ever imagined", Phillip Simpson said.

She had the mental age of a 6 or 7-year-old and her parents meant "everything to her," he said.

"For 50 years, Mum and Michelle did everything together."

Michelle Simpson with her nephew Jack and her parents Michael and Elaine Simpson. Photo / Supplied
Michelle Simpson with her nephew Jack and her parents Michael and Elaine Simpson. Photo / Supplied

Phillip Simpson said they believed the 72-year-old's death was the final straw after months in which Michelle Simpson had been out of sorts.

She had been acting a bit differently, going to bed early and not wanting to eat, he said.

She had also lost interest in the things she usually enjoyed, he said.

"Mum suffered from depression for her whole life, something she has passed on to me and it seems Michelle as well...

"Depression and the death of a close relative is hard enough for people with normal cognitive abilities to process, but for Shell, it must have been impossible."

In the days after Elaine Simpson's death, Michelle Simpson would repeat the same phrases and questions.

Things like 'I love you', 'Not coping', 'How are you?', 'My fault' and 'I'm sorry', he said.

"It seems she might have blamed herself for mum's death despite our reassurances."

The Simpson family: Michelle with her nephew Sam, brother John, nephew Tom, sister-in-law Rose, nephew Jack, brother Phillip and father Michael. Photo / Supplied
The Simpson family: Michelle with her nephew Sam, brother John, nephew Tom, sister-in-law Rose, nephew Jack, brother Phillip and father Michael. Photo / Supplied

Michelle Simpson went missing on Monday morning when she was supposed to meet the person who regularly accompanied her on walks.

For the first time, the 50-year-old wanted to wait outside on the deck for her companion rather than wait inside.

It was an unprecedented move that her family took to mean she was recovering from the loss of her mother.

Her father had packed her a lunch in a little cream coloured tote bag including two ham sandwiches, some apple which she had peeled herself, a banana and a bottle of water.

The deck was covered and the long driveway was fenced off with a closed gate.

"She was perfectly safe and had never, ever walked off on her own before. Not once," Phillip Simpson said.

But when Michelle Simpson's walking companion arrived the 50-year-old was nowhere in sight.

As the search effort ensued police asked residents near Wairere Rd, Caton Rd, Gregory Rd or Duffy Rd to check any camera footage or dashcam footage.

They also appealed for sightings and asked people to look in their sheds and backyards.

"She was seen twice but not as much as I would have hoped on the primary teachers' strike day - a day when all primary children and their caregivers would have been at home. It was just bad luck," Phillip Simpson said.

Michelle Simpson's family have called her death a
Michelle Simpson's family have called her death a "devastating blow". Photo / Supplied

The surrounding streets did not have footpaths so she would have had to walk on the verge that was surrounded by thick bush, he said.

"Clearly she became confused and disorientated and evidently walked past her own house again."

In desperation, she must have tried to push her way through extremely dense bush, he said.

"It was so dense the search and rescue team carried machetes."

The Eagle helicopter searched for her four times starting on Monday night.

"The fact that its heat sensing camera failed to see her suggests that the bush was too dense to penetrate or she had already passed," Phillip Simpson said.

"We all hope it was the latter, the thought that she might have suffered for days is almost too much to bear."

She was found only 600 metres from her home on Wednesday.

The loss had been keenly felt by a family who adored her.

Michelle Simpson was adored by her family, including three nephews. Photo / Supplied
Michelle Simpson was adored by her family, including three nephews. Photo / Supplied

"She loved her nephews with desperate passion. Whenever they were around, she was all smiles and laughter," Phillip Simpson said.

She took everything they said to heart, he said.

"My 7-year-old son once told her to go away when she was playing with him a bit boisterously.

"She put herself to bed for two days and only got up when Jack apologised.

"He brought her a crystal from Crystal Mountain."

It was on her bedside table when she disappeared.

"We all loved Michelle deeply and can't believe she's gone," Phillip Simpson said.

Both brothers had expected to care for her into their old age, he said.

"Although our family is not religious, I hope she and mum are together again in death as they were in life. And at peace."

The Simpson family wanted to thank the Waitakere community, police, friends and work colleagues who all helped during the search for Michelle.

"We could not have asked for more commitment or care.

"The hospital staff at the serious burns unit did all they could for mum and the police did all they could for Michelle. New Zealand is truly a great country to live in."

A police spokesman confirmed Michelle Simpson's death had been referred to the Coroner.