Gabrielle Maina: 'Much-loved' Australian teacher shot dead during robbery in Nairobi

Gabrielle Maina: 'Much-loved' Australian teacher shot dead during robbery in Nairobi

Gabrielle Maina: 'Much-loved' Australian teacher shot dead during robbery in Nairobi

Updated 20 October 2017, 15:40 AEDT

Witnesses say Gabrielle Maina was attacked by armed men while she walked along a road in a suburb of the Kenyan capital.

An Australian teacher has been shot dead in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

Witnesses said Gabrielle Maina was walking down a street when she was attacked by armed men on a motorbike in the affluent suburb of Karen.

The shooting has shocked the expat community in Nairobi, especially students, teachers and parents from the Hillcrest International School, where Ms Maina was the head teacher.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it appeared she was "killed [by] a fatal gunshot wound during a robbery on the 19th [of October]".

"She's a teacher, it is a tragic event and, you know, our prayers, love and condolences go out to her family and loved ones."

The school's website said she arrived in Kenya in September 2015, after a successful career in New South Wales and overseas.

Ms Maina taught several subjects, including English, drama and Italian.

A 'rare' student

Ms Maina was originally from Armidale and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New England (UNE) in 2004 and with her Graduate Diploma in Education in 2006.

"The university is deeply saddened to hear of the death of Gabrielle Maina, a member of our alumni community," a UNE spokesperson said in a statement.

"Our thoughts are with Ms Maina's family and friends at this terrible time, we offer our condolences and support."

UNE arts lecturer Anna Cavallaro told the ABC Ms Maina was a memorable student and her death was "truly tragic, I cannot stress that enough".

"I rarely find students as exceptional as her, on a human level, not just academic," Ms Cavallaro said.

"It's a very sad occasion for all who knew her."

A friend of Ms Maina who lives in Sydney, Carolina Gonzalez-Escaida, said she was devastated to learn of the teacher's death.

"I didn't believe it at first, it's really shocking, she'd only been here a couple of months ago now, she stayed with us and visited," Ms Gonzalez-Escaida said.

"She was a strong woman, and a great friend, caring, nurturing and passionate about what she believes in.

"I didn't believe my husband at first, I thought maybe he got it wrong or maybe he misunderstood but no he had told me word for word what he heard on the news and that her picture had come up on the screen ... and it was confirmed.

"It's just really shocking."

A dedicated teacher

Minister for Education Rob Stokes said Ms Maina taught in a number of NSW public schools, including almost five years as an English and Drama teacher at Sarah Redfern High School.

"She developed a reputation as a passionate and highly dedicated teacher who was a fierce champion of public education and creating opportunities for students to improve their educational outcomes and life opportunities," Mr Stokes said.

"Gabrielle was truly committed to her faith and her family, which took her to Kenya where in recent years she committed herself to educating young children.

"Her colleagues in the Department of Education will affectionately remember her for her humour, tenacity, dedication to students and loyalty to colleagues.

"Our deepest sympathies are extended to her husband and children, family and friends," he said.

An email to parents released by the school has expressed shock at Ms Maina's death and offered condolences to her family.

It said the much-loved teacher was attacked after she dropped her son at a friend's house.

Police are investigating the killing.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is offering consular assistance to Ms Maina's family.

"Due to our privacy obligations, we will not release further details," DFAT said.