Police have recovered "badly burnt" human remains thought to belong to Whangarei Heads gunman Quinn Patterson, from inside the house destroyed by fire on Wednesday.
The mother and daughter victims of the fatal shooting were at the gunman's property for a "routine inspection" and to install smoke alarms to protect the tenant.
Quinn Patterson allegedly shot dead Wendy Campbell, 60, her daughter Natanya Campbell, 37, and wounded a contractor as they were conducting a property inspection at Mr Patterson's rented house in Whangarei Heads.
Their bodies have now been retreived and have been taken from the scene in hearses.
"Wendy was a very outgoing, very vibrant, fun down to earth person," close family friend Julie Pepper told Newshub.
"She calls a spade a spade and she'll always have your back. She sticks up for friends and family, she's very loyal.
"I too am a property manager and it's something that's going to be playing on every property manager's mind in Whangarei. It's quite a close-knit group of people, and just something we can't fathom ever happening."
Ms Pepper's daughter, Courtenay, says "it's not fair", calling Wendy "a second mum".
Family spokesman Nore Martin says they are "still in shock".
"I guess the whole reality of everything hasn't set in yet.
We've got a big wide extended family, we're all rallying together."
Friends and family have taken to social media, posting tributes to the mother and daughter tragically killed in the event.
A friend, posting on Wendy's Facebook page wrote,"I am shaken to the core by the unbelievable act that has taken two beautiful lives who sought always to be warm, generous, kind and caring."
Beverley Vernon wrote, "Our beautiful loving sister-in-law and her dear daughter. Words are inadequate.....Such a gap in so many lives. Love our dear brother Tony and Wendy's whanau. God Bless".
A cousin of Natanya, Victoria Martin, told NZME she was "all about her children".
The 37-year-old has left behind four daughters aged between three and 19 and was described as a "loving woman, who lived for her daughters".
Ms Martin said the youngest one probably can't comprehend what's happened yet.
"What can you say? It's just shocking, unbelievable."
Ms Martin said she had just started working with her mother.
"Her mum was really well known and loved. They were as close as any mum and daughter can be. We're devastated, shocked speechless."
The family, including Natanya's partner Peter Penney and her dad Jim Campbell, were beside themselves with grief and gathering at the family home, Ms Martin said.
The wounded contractor, Jeff Pipe, managed to escape with his life.
A Northland DHB spokesperson said he was recovering in hospital "in a satisfactory condition".
He had gone with the two women to do routine maintenance work on the property, and escaped in his red Suzuki, which appeared to have bullet holes in the windscreen.
When he reached the road leading out, a cordon had already been set up by armed police.
Mr Patterson allegedly shot dead the mother and daughter, and wounded a contractor as they were conducting a property inspection at Mr Patterson's rented house in Whangarei Heads.
He was in his fifties and owned company ABFab maintenance, performing odd jobs, including painting and waterblasting.
The house at the centre of the shooting burned to the ground with the gunman inside, who is believed to be dead.
Northland District Commander Superintendent Russell Le Prou said they had not yet located his body.
Friends of Mr Patterson told Newshub he was facing financial trouble and it's understood he was about to be evicted from the property he rented on Mount Tiger Rd in Whareora, north of Parua Bay.
His neighbour Michael Jordan, who lives about 100m away, told NZME Mr Patterson was a "loner".
"All I know is, the guy that 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."
Five investigators are due to arrive at the site later on Thursday.
Police officers and armed offenders squad members were called to the property at about 11am on Wednesday and arrived to find the two women dead.
After negotiators got no response from inside, tear gas was fired into the home and there was an exchange of gunfire.
Northland district commander Russell Le Prou yesterday said police "eventually used tear gas late this afternoon and the offender fired several shots at the police, and the police staff present returned some shots".
Small, tight-knit community left in shock
Mr Prou said Wednesday's events sent shockwaves through the community.
"The victims were just simply doing their job when the offender has suddenly turned on them".
Last night Wendy Campbell's husband, Tony Rodgers, was being consoled by a community pastor and family friends at the Whangarei home the couple shared, NZME reported.
Ms Campbell managed Seek n Find Property Management in Whangarei with her husband.
A family friend said the women's bodies were still at the property and Mr Rodgers had not visited the scene.
Ms Campbell had more than 10 years' experience as a property manager in New Zealand, and on the Sunshine Coast.
Whangarei Heads Ward Councillor Greg Innes told Newshub it's not something you can't ever imagine happening in your own community.
"Of course we're all distraught and our sincere condolences go out to those families. As a community it makes us grieve that such an event should happen.
"It always comes as a shock and then the next question you always ask is whose involved and how can we help."
Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai on Thursday called the shooting "ghastly".
"Not only do I feel for the victims' families, but the family of the shooter. They'll be grieving too," she said.
Mr Le Prou said they had a significant number of enquiries to make and people to speak with to understand how the tragedy occurred.
He said police "did everything they could, and despite knowing there was an active shooter in the immediate vicinity [they] still entered the property to see if there was any chance they could save Wendy and Natanya".
"Tragically, there was nothing we could do."
He was proud of the professionalism they showed in a 'volatile and changing situation".
The scene remained cordoned off on Thursday morning and would likely be so for several days while an investigation was conducted.
Police will remove the women from the scene this afternoon and a post mortem will be carried out tomorrow.
The scene was guarded overnight by police staff and it will also be blessed today by a local kaumātua.