Mother had concerns leaving children with father who is now accused of murdering 2yo daughter

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The former partner of a man accused of killing their daughter says she was worried about their children being around him.

Tewi Daniel Savage, 34, is on trial at the High Court in Hamilton charged with murdering his daughter Arnica in a Bay of Plenty river.

The two-year-old was found dead in the Rangitaiki River near Te Mahoe two years ago.

On Tuesday Arnica's mother Santana Moses told the court about the moment she realised her daughter was missing.

"I went to say hello to all of my children and I noticed that there were only the boys there, so I asked where [my] baby girl was."

The Crown says Savage entered the chilly waters holding his toddler before letting her body go. 

He was later found naked in the bushes near the edge of the river. He was crying and says he had drowned his daughter.

The Crown alleges Savage took Arnica into the water to end her life and possibly his own as well. 

But the defence is arguing he wasn't thinking like a normal person that night and want to show he was insane or suffering mental impairment at the time.

The court heard Savage was frustrated and angry in the months leading up to Arnica's death because his relationship had ended.

"He seemed like he took it well but I don't think he did," Moses said.

She was also concerned about his mental health and the effects on their children.

"I was worried about the safety of himself and the kids being around him."

The Crown is calling 27 witnesses and the trial is set down for two weeks.