A couple with long-term links to euthanasia group Exit International have been found dead together in their home in the Wellington suburb of Eastbourne.
The bodies of Eneka and Reinier Odinot, aged 89 and 90, were found by a family member at 2pm on Wednesday, police said.
They had been members of the Wellington branch of Exit International for 10 years and attended workshops on suicide methods, said Philip Nitschke, Exit's Australian-based director.
Nitschke, nicknamed Dr Death because of his support for assisted suicide, said the deaths were sad but, as ardent euthanasia supporters, the couple had simply followed through with their intention to end their lives together.
"What was really sad was that they had such trouble."
Eneka Odinot had written to him to describe a failed attempt, using a method he promoted.
"We were so confident that we would end our lives [so] that failure was a severe shock, especially - in our eyes - for our children," she wrote.
"My husband said he saw me struggling for breath, adding to his misery. This experience has made us both more determined to succeed next time.
"Our children have been understanding and supportive throughout. If anything, the failures have brought us closer together. Bless them."
Suzy Austen, Wellington's Exit International branch head, said the Odinots were childhood sweethearts and devoted, active, rational people, who moved from Holland to New Zealand in 1950.
They had a son and two daughters.
"He was a true gentleman," Austen said of Reinier.
"He would stand up when you walked into the room - and absolutely charming. Always bright and cheerful. Eneka was very interested in conservation. She kept herself well informed on all sorts of issues and was quite passionate about helping."
Eneka was a prolific letter writer to The Dominion Post. Her final letter arrived last Friday: "In 1950 I was given an entry visa to New Zealand on condition I was ‘not the type of person who advocates the overthrow of government'. Has this condition been omitted lately?"
Police did not believe their sudden deaths were suspicious, and the case had been referred to the coroner.
The Odinots' family declined to comment.
- The Dominion Post