On the day of her tangi, Kathleen Kawana's uncle has remembered her as a "happy-go-lucky, bubbly child" and a "typical" mother "bringing her kiddies up".

Kathleen's body was found in a Ngarimu Hill property, near Ruatoria on August 3, by the new owners of the property, police previously said.

"The property recently changed hands and the body was found by the new owners who had gone to have a look around there last Saturday," Detective Senior Sergeant Ben Quinn said.

Kathleen's uncle said she was living at the house she was found in, but couldn't say for how long.


"Police gave us the information. They were looking for the family and because of the name they found us easily", he said.

"It's still sinking in for the family."

He said Kathleen, 46, was born and brought up in Flaxmere, Hastings and moved to Porirua.

"I believe she went to Flaxmere Primary School and Flaxmere College.

"She was the middle child of five siblings, she was a bubbly kid, she was always happy-go-lucky.

"She was also a typical mother - bringing her kiddies up. She had about five children. I can't be certain because I lost contact with her after she moved."

Kathleen's body was believed to have been at the property for some time, and her death is being treated as "unexplained".

The family did not want to comment further until after the tangi.


Anyone with information which could assist the investigation into Kathleen's death is encouraged to call Gisborne Police on 06 869 0200.

Information can also be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Kathleen's tangi is being held at Te Aranga Marae, Flaxmere.

Her death was the second tragedy to happen in the same family, with her own daughter dying, aged 6, in 2005.

Iriaka Te Rangi Maria Kawana was six when she was pinned beneath a 10cm thick outer branch of a low-slung 30cm-thick arm of a tree which snapped near where it joined the trunk.

The tree was a 35-year-old bluegum and the incident happened on March 16, at Flaxmere's Lochain Park.

Investigations into the six year-old's death revealed a group of children playing on the branch of the 35-year-old gum tree, with two of them bouncing on it as Iriaka hung from it.

When the branch broke the other children were thrown clear, but Iriaka was pinned for 15 minutes while adults were found to lift the branch off her.

No evidence of decay was found at the point where the branch broke off the tree, and the Hastings District Council had received no complaints about it.

However "Summer Branch Drop", a condition where branches dropped off healthy trees at the end of a dry summer, was unable to be ruled out.