Neighbours have described a 79-year-old woman found dead at her Wellington home as a keen gardener and a quiet lady who kept to herself.

Police are treating Helen Gregory’s death on Wednesday as a homicide after a post mortem was completed showing her death was caused through an act of violence.

They are continuing to comb for evidence at the house which sits up a hill on a quiet Khandallah street, where neighbours have watched from afar as investigators wrap evidence in plastic sheets.

RNZ spoke to a couple of neighbours on Baroda St who said the mood in the area was eerie and sad and they were trying to come to grips with the homicide investigation.

One neighbour, who did not want to be identified, told RNZ the woman, who had gone to school with their aunty, spent a lot of her time gardening.

They said she was very old school and people would have mixed opinions about her – she either liked you, or she did not.

The amount of gardening she did and the layout and size of her hilly property helped keep her fit and out of a retirement home, they said.

The neighbour said Gregory’s only visitors were her daughter or, as she got older, her gardener.

Further up the road, neighbour Steve Watt said residents on Baroda St were anxious for answers in the next few days.

“It’s pretty sad really to know that someone in your own street and neighbour, especially an older lady living on her own, that that’s happened you know to someone like that especially in a quiet little street like this. But I suppose there’s a few concerned residents but they just want to know what the full story is.”

Watt has lived on Baroda St for 20 years and said during his time there he only saw Gregory a handful of times. He said she was a quiet lady who kept to herself.

Ōhāriu MP Greg O’Connor has been speaking to local people and said they were anxious to know whether it was a random attack or involved someone known to the woman.

“A quick resolution is the only thing that will still that anxiety I think.”

A scene examination usually took several days, he said.

There had been only “bits and pieces” of petty crime in the area recently, such as wilful damage, he said.

Since Wednesday, police have gone around the neighbourhood, interviewing residents and using their CCTV footage to help with the investigation.

They are asking people who were on Baroda Street on Wednesday 24 January and who saw unusual activity or someone they did not recognise to contact them.

By Ashleigh McCaull of rnz.co.nz

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