A man charged with the murder of 2-year-old girl Arnica Savage has this morning pleaded not guilty.

The man, 32, appeared in the High Court at Rotorua charged with murdering the child at Te Mahoe in the Eastern Bay of Plenty on Sunday night.

The man, wearing a white prison boiler suit and clutching a blue book, entered the plea through his lawyer, Gene Tomlinson.

About 20 people were in the public gallery.


Justice Graham Lang remanded the man in custody to reappear by audio visual link for a case review hearing on September 5.

The trial will start on March 18 next year.

Justice Lang said at the request of the family the accused's name and his relationship to the girl would be suppressed until 5pm on July 11, after the girl's tangi.

Arnica's body was found in the Rangitaiki River on Sunday about 11pm after police were called about 6pm.