Man who killed partner to spend at least 17 years in prison

A man who killed his partner in a jealous rage at her Opotiki home will spend at least 17 years in prison.

Robert Hohua has been sentenced to life in the Tauranga District Court for the brutal murder of Marie Harlick.

The attack took place as their young daughter sat nearby in a push chair.

Hohua was in a jealous rage and lashed out at the 36-year-old last November after believing that she was unfaithful to him.

It took less than 20 minutes for him to deliver the brutal blows and repeated kicks that would end his former partner's life.

The 36-year-old was left to die, choking on her own blood.

Justice Anne Hinton said, "For most of the assault the victim was unconscious or semi-conscious and on the ground and thus totally disabled."

Ms Harlick's 19-month-old daughter, Vivienne, was also in the Opotiki house at the time of Hohua's violent and deadly attack.

The 36-year-old had been in a relationship with Ms Harlick for two years.

At his pre-sentencing Hohua said he couldn't know that kicking someone would cause death. He said he has had no flashbacks of that evening and could sleep well at night.

Hohua's lack of remorse was a factor in his maximum 17-year non-parole life sentence.

He was on bail after facing a charge of assault with intent to injure her just months before he killed her.

Ms Harlick's older sister, Vicky, got out of a violent relationship herself and said her sister had wanted to change her life too.

"Seventeen years to me isn't enough I'd say... To be honest... what can I say? Seventeen years is 17 years. At least my niece is going to be 20-something."

Marie's aunt and her namesake is now raising three-year-old Vivienne and told Hohua in court the devastating loss she feels for the toddler.

"Mush won't be there to see her first ball dress, the 21st celebrations, a wedding," she said.

"She still cries in the night for her mummy... and it still brings me to tears. It's still raw."

Rebuilding the girl's life without her mother is now the focus for the Harlick whānau.