Tears for Joanne Pert, jogger killed in Remuera
A tearful Paula Bennett has paid tribute to a long-time family friend who was killed while out jogging in the Auckland suburb of Remuera on Thursday.
The National Party MP, who had known Pert for 25 years, was speaking on behalf of the dead woman's family, who were too upset to talk.
"Jo was an absolutely devoted mum. She always put her kids first before anything else," Bennett said on Saturday.
Pert's life revolved around her two children, a 7-year-old and a 6-year-old.
"She was mother-help in their class, involved in their sports and activities. Her life revolved around their needs," Bennett said.
"She was a fiercely intelligent and driven woman."
Bennett got to know the family after going to school with Pert's cousin in Taupo.
Pert worked in London as an accountant for nine years before returning to Auckland, where she had lived for 10 years.
On her return to New Zealand Pert studied herbal medicine, acupuncture and business while raising two young children.
Bennett said her friend would often be up until 2am studying then wake a few hours later with the kids.
She was also an avid sportswoman who participated in marathons and also enjoyed horseriding, skiing, swimming and snowboarding.
"She was fun-loving and had a great passion for life."
Bennett also recalled her friend's love of singer Robbie Williams.
"She had a huge love for Robbie Williams, even going backstage to meet him at one of his concerts but then being too scared to talk to him."
Pert's family were proud of her and her achievements, Bennett said.
"We can't describe our sadness at this time and are just focused on supporting Harry and Molly."
Despite making an arrest over Pert's alleged murder, police are still trying to piece together what happened in the moments before her death.
They are hoping private CCTV systems may have captured images of 41-year-old Pert or the man who allegedly murdered her on January 7.
Police want to hear from residents on Shore Rd whose security cameras might have recorded Joanne or the alleged offender between about 9am and 10.30am that day.
They are also appealing for sightings of Pert - who was Caucasian, slim, and had blonde hair cut in a bob - running along Shore Rd between the Bassett Rd and Brighton Rd roundabout and the Orakei Rd roundabout at that time.
A 24-year-old man handed himself in to police about an hour after Pert's body was found on Thursday, along with the weapon he claimed to have used. Police said he was unknown to Pert.
However, investigators say any information to help reconstruct the events leading up to and following on from the alleged attack on Pert remains vital to the operation.
Pert was on Friday remembered as a kind and caring person who was "in the wrong place at the wrong time".
Her father, Kevin Pert, said she was a fantastic mother.
"She was also a great sportsperson and super-qualified," he said. "She was an accountant and had a medical degree."
He said his daughter was a keen runner and swimmer and would often run long distances from her inner-city apartment. In the past she had competed in the Auckland half marathon.
Kevin Pert said the family was "just totally in shock".
The 24-year-old accused, who has name suppression, appeared in Auckland District Court on Friday and was remanded in custody to reappear on January 27. He was ordered to undergo a psychiatric assessment.
Anybody with information can contact the police on 0800 765 842. A dedicated email address has been set up for the investigation, called Operation Solitaire: firstname.lastname@example.org.