A teenage girl broke down in court while describing how a senior social worker in Northland allegedly sexually abused her.

The girl was giving evidence in the Whangarei District Court yesterday against Chappy Harrison who is on a week-long trial.

He has denied three charges of indecently assaulting a female between the ages of 12 and 16, one of unlawful sexual connection and another of doing an indecent act. The alleged offences happened towards the end of 2015.

The complainant told a jury of eight women and four men yesterday Harrison gave her a phone and a bottle of perfume for Christmas. She gave evidence via a closed circuit television camera.

The 16-year-old broke down and indicated she needed a break when defence lawyer Joanne Wickliffe asked questions around part of her police statement where she mentioned Harrison grabbed her breast.

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"Chappy will say nothing of those happened and that you made it all up," Ms Wickliffe put it to her.

"Really, he knows he'd done that," she replied.

The teenager said she received about 50 text messages and 10 missed calls from Harrison.

Harrison, 46, is well-known in Kaitaia for working with at-risk youths and has also been heavily involved in the waka ama movement. In 2012 he captained the waka Te Hono ki Aoteroa on London's River Thames for the Queen's 60th jubilee.

He had worked in the community as a social worker for more than 18 years and last worked in that role for Child Youth and Family in the Tai Tokerau Youth Justice arm.

His alleged victim is not someone who was referred to him in a work capacity.

In late 2015, Harrison was awarded a $100,000 Vodafone World of Difference funding which went towards waka wananga run by Nga Waka o Te Taitokerau.

Ministry of Social Development yesterday declined to comment.