The man who fatally shot two women and injured a third person is believed to be Quinn Patterson - someone described by neighbours as "a loner" and "protective" of his property.
Neighbour Brad Walters told the Herald Patterson wasn't a known hunter and disliked pig hunters coming onto his land but he often heard gunshots coming from the Mt Tiger Road property.
"He just shot in his back lawn by the sounds of it, you could hear it from here, you could hear it from everywhere.
"They were big guns ... we're talking automatics, semi-automatics, big calibres. They sounded like canons, you could hear them going off with like 16 rounds."
Walters said he didn't think too much of the regular shooting before yesterday.
"You don't really think of it, you just think it's someone practising their shooting in the back lawn or something.
"It's not until afterwards that you think that you should've said something.
"He was okay, he was a friendly enough guy."
Rental property manager Wendy Campbell and her daughter Natanya were both shot dead at the house yesterday during what was believed to be a routine inspection. A third person, contractor Jeff Pipe, was shot and is in hospital in a stable condition.
Walters said Patterson was "protective" of his Northland property but interested in pest control.
"I turned in there one day, and he would always come out and make sure he wouldn't let you into his house - that's for sure."
Patterson had attended local community meetings to help with pest control.
"He was getting letters out to neighbours to make sure people knew who was who, and have a get together, so he did come across as pretty good as long as you didn't enter into his property."
Patterson owned a house maintenance company and had more than 40 years' experience in the building and associated trades.
Northern Advocate editor Craig Cooper said Patterson was familiar to staff and had come into the office several times to place ads.
"It was fair to say he came across as one of those people we refer to as being a little bit unusual."
Michael Jordan, who lives about 100m from the Patterson's property, told the Herald the home was occupied by a man he described as a "loner".
"The guy I presume is the one responsible for the shooting has been living there for years. I think he rented it. I don't know him that well, we used to stop and talk every so often. He kept to himself, I don't really know him that well. He's a bit of a loner really."
Jordan believed more than one person may have been living at the house, but he only ever saw one man.
He did not believe the Patterson had a wife or children at the home.
"He actually drove past, going to town, and he tooted and waved," Jordan said of one meeting.
"We're on a rural road, so it's not like we're in the middle of town."
Jordan said Patterson would probably be in his mid-50s.
Walters said he heard the firefight between Patterson and police from his property. He said the exchange lasted about two minutes before the house exploded.
Armed police are back at the house this morning.
A blockade has been set up at the start of the 200m driveway to the house.
The women had gone to their to inspect it for their company Seek n Find Property Management, based in Whangarei.
After a gunfire exchange between the man and police, the house caught fire.
A small amount of white smoke could still be seen drifting from what is left of the house this morning.
Neighbours have told the Herald they are "shocked" about what happened, but were thankful they and their children were at work or school at the time of the shootings.
The Campbells' bodies and that of the gunman are thought to be still inside the burned home.
Survivor Jeff Pipe managed to escape in a red Suzuki, which appeared to have bullet holes in the windscreen, and drove out of the gravel driveway and along the road to a cordon armed police had already set up.
He was guided to a waiting ambulance and this morning was in a stable condition at Whangarei Hospital and able to communicate with loved ones.
Last night Campbell's grieving husband, Tony Rodgers, was being consoled by a community pastor and family friends at the Whangarei home the couple shared.
"Tony is devastated," a family friend told the Herald.
"We don't know much, Tony doesn't know much about what happened."
Wendy, who had recently turned 60, had more than 10 years' experience as a property manager, mostly in New Zealand but she had also worked on the Sunshine Coast. Her daughter was believed to be in her 30s.
Police say they were called to Patterson's home at about 10.50am on Wednesday.
Details of what triggered the shooting remain unclear, but police confirmed they knew who the gunman was and tried to negotiate with him throughout the afternoon.
Northland District Commander Superintendent Russell Le Prou said they 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.
Le Prou said yesterday police believed the man was still at the house at the time and it was "very unlikely" he had survived.
Police say an update was likely mid-morning.