Janay Johnstone was "over the moon" when she and her husband Mark found out she was pregnant with their second child.

But her grieving family are today holding her funeral after the talented graphic artist and newborn baby photographer died unexpectedly this week.

"She always looked after us - her door was open," sister Chantelle Manuel told the Weekend Herald.

"She was always lending a hand for charity. We didn't just lose Janay, we have lost our niece, our moko."

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Janay's family spoke publicly about their loss today, recalling how she was "kind hearted, laid back and independent".

Her life revolved around her son Tiare who is 3-1/2 and Mark, an aircraft technician. The couple had waited a long time for their second child, a baby girl.

"It was a very long process to conceive Tiare and they had been accepted for IVF when Janay got pregnant with baby number two. It was a miracle" said her sister-in-law, Lana Mitchell.

There was nothing unusual about Janay's pregnancy apart from the usual morning sickness and no signs anything was wrong. Janay was almost full term when she died.

"It was medical, it was sudden and it can happen to anyone at any time," her sister said.

Janay Johnstone was 9 months pregnant with a girl when she died suddenly this week. Photo / Supplied
Janay Johnstone was 9 months pregnant with a girl when she died suddenly this week. Photo / Supplied

Mark and Janay Johnstone were teenagers when they met each other in a crowded nightclub. They have been together for 13 years and married for seven.

Janay trained as a graphic artist and had started a new job at Turners and Growers, which she loved for their "family friendly" environment. She always carried a camera wherever she went and had a "flair" for baby photography.

"It started off as a hobby. She loved experimenting with our kids, that's where I think she found her niche in newborns.

"She was a baby whisperer – it wasn't just her gravitating to babies but babies naturally gravitated towards her," said her sister-in-law.

"She was the favourite aunty with the banter and wit - she always welcomed the kids with open arms."

Janay loved taking photos for Heartfelt New Zealand, a volunteer organisation of professional photographers who capture memories for families who have lost their loved ones.

"The sad thing is Janay loved helping there. The charity helps mothers when they lose their babies or when babies have to be terminated at 20 weeks. Janay would take photos for them for keepsakes. It feels a bit ironic this has happened to us," Manuel said.

Mark and Janay were preparing for the next journey in their lives.

Their house was on the market and they had signed up to buy a house in Cromwell to be near Mark's parents, David and Carolyn, who live in Invercargill.

"It was the start of a new journey they had it all worked out. Janay used to say, 'We only plan two years at a time - nothing was forever', so this was the start of a new beginning they were both excited about.

"They had prepared a room for the baby and Mark had bought his first set of baby clothes, Janay was so impressed," Mitchell said.

Janay and her baby are resting at home before the funeral tomorrow. She will be laid to rest close to her nan in Herekino, near Kaitaia.

Janay Johnstone with her husband Mark Johnstone and son Tiare in February 2019. Photo / Supplied
Janay Johnstone with her husband Mark Johnstone and son Tiare in February 2019. Photo / Supplied

The family wanted Janay and baby to be at home surrounded by the people who love her most.

Their message is, "Appreciate all the loved ones around you - live in the moment and don't take anything for granted".

A Givealittle page for the family can be found here