Before she was killed in her Wellington home, Sarwan Lata had plans.
She was especially looking forward to a trip to Sydney to stay with her sister, Asha, and celebrate her birthday.
She had bought three bright new saris for the occasion. On Saturday, at Wilson's Funeral Home in Wellington, her body was adorned in one of them.
"She always took pride in her appearance, she always dressed elegantly and beautifully and she could always pull off the bright red lipstick," cousin Ashleen Singh said.
"She was the best cook, always making multiple dishes, and she was fun to be around - always laughing, there was a cute little giggle she always had. She cherished her life . . . In the last hours [of her life] she spoke to her sister, Asha, and was very happy and excited as she booked her flights to Australia."
Ms Lata would never make that flight. She was allegedly slain by a man who she had sought a protection order against, but who entered her Woodridge home on Tuesday.
Police were called after reports of screaming and they initially found an injured 46-year-old man, who was taken to hospital. Ms Lata's body was found in the driveway.
The man, whose name is suppressed, appeared in the Wellington District Court on Wednesday on charges including murder, aggravated burglary and breaching a protection order.
Judge Phil Moran remanded him to a secure psychiatric care for a report to determine his fitness to plead.
At the funeral, Ms Singh told mourners while family couldn't hide from the circumstances of her death, it was better not to dwell on why and how.
"There are so many unanswered questions . . . stories are being said, impressions are being made, however the complete truth only lies with Lata and we all have to accept that."
Family friend Dev Narayan said Ms Lata, a Fijian-Indian, migrated to New Zealand from Fiji with her family in 1999. They had bought a house in Newlands, and she worked as a checkout operator at Countdown in Johnsonville.
Ms Lata's popularity was illustrated by the large contingent of Countdown staff who were there to pay their respects. A female colleague said Ms Lata was a caring, friendly, respectful and loving woman. "It's hard to express the grief that we all feel."
Ms Lata is survived by two younger sisters and three younger brothers. Her body left for Fiji yesterday, with last rites being said in her home country today.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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