The family of a mother and three children whose bodies were found in an Ashburton home are said to be in shock over the deaths, yet moved by the support of the community.
Cindy George, 31, and her three children - Pio Raukete, 5, Teuruaa George, 3, and Telyzshaun George, 2 - were found dead on Thursday by friends Ms George was house-sitting for.
Police believe Ms George and her children died from breathing exhaust fumes from a car left running in a garage connected to the house, but are waiting for a post-mortem to determine the exact cause of death.
Ms George had been asked to turn on the car occasionally to keep it in running order.
Police said the children were found in front of the TV, which was still on, and their mother was found nearby in the hallway.
Mid-Canterbury Cook Islands community leader Tony Vainerere said he met with Ms George's two sisters who had arrived in Ashburton, and they were overwhelmed by the help they have received from the community.
"They are still in a bit of shock and they didn't say much," Mr Vainerere said. But "they were quite moved by the support they have seen so far".
Canterbury district commander John Price said the deaths appear to be a tragic accident.
He said the the family could have been dead for days or even up to a week before they were found.
"At the moment, we are working with the community to try to establish the movements of the family prior to them being found dead."
Mr Price said the bodies of Ms George and the children were moved from the Ashburton house yesterday and taken to a Christchurch mortuary for post mortems on Monday.
The results of toxicology samples won't be available for a few more weeks, he said.
Mr Vainerere said Ms George's sisters were waiting for the post-mortem to be completed before going to Christchurch to see them.
"Once everything is done in the hospital, they will decide the best time to have the family service and the day of the funeral."
Mr Vainerere said the family had spoken about burying Ms George and her children in Ashburton, where she had lived for about five years.
He described Ms George as a "lively person," who always had a smile on her face.
"The last time I met her was last Friday at a supermarket. She tapped me and I turned around and there was this big laugh," Mr Vainerere said.
"The last thing I remember about her was the smile on her face."
Ms George was estranged from the children's father, who also lives in Ashburton and is receiving help from victim support, he said.