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Peg Noble, 67, who worked at the office, was well known around the town. She was "hard but fair" in her job, friends say - someone who wouldn't tolerate rule breaking or idleness.
"She was good at her job - hard but fair, but in that job you'd have to be. I couldn't do it and she certainly didn't deserve that ending," said one friend.
They played together at the Ashburton RSA and MSA (Mutual School of Arts) and toured New Zealand playing tournaments, even winning a big competition in Christchurch one year.
"Peg was great fun to be around - a laugh a minute," the friend said, who did not wish to be named. "Whenever I popped in to Winz she was always up for a chat."
Her partner Don, a shearer, would be devastated, the friend said. "They were truly made for one another as far as I could see."
A neighbour of Ms Noble also said she was an infamously hard taskmaster at Winz who "had no time for lazy people" or people "with their hands out". "In my dealings with her, she took no s*** and I respected her for that."
Another local said Ms Noble had been talking about retirement in recent months. "She felt like she'd done enough and wanted to enjoy herself."
Bouquets of flowers have been laid at various points of the large cordon that remains around the Winz centre today.
Ms Noble was shot dead, along with fellow worker Susan Cleveland. Another colleague, Lindy Curtis, was seriously injured in the shooting.
Ms Cleveland, who went by her middle name of Leigh, moved to Ashburton from Christchurch after the quakes. She lived alone in a red brick house on the eastern fringe of town where she bred rottweilers.
A neighbour said she had a son and "was a quiet lady who kept to herself and was quite often away at the weekends, I think through her dog breeding".
Ms Curtis was flown to Christchurch Hospital in a critical condition yesterday. Hospital staff said they could not comment on her condition.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett today said Ms Curtis had asked for complete privacy. "I think the fact that she's talking and asking for that is an indication she is recovering," Ms Bennett said.