The family of slain Rawene woman Barbara Ann Moka gave a thumbs up as her partner and killer Matiu Korewha was sentenced to life in jail with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.
Emotional victim impact statements were read by Ms Moka's two sisters, a brother, mother and a friend in the High Court at Whangarei yesterday, prior to Korewha's sentencing for her murder.
Korewha, 44, bashed Ms Moka to death in a paddock not far from Omanaia's Te Piiti Marae in the early hours of June 9, 2013 before wrapping her body in a blanket and hiding it under a pile of rubbish, the jury heard.
After killing her, Korewha took a number of steps to conceal not only her death but also her body for 17 days before it was discovered. He was found guilty of murder by a jury in December and a few weeks ago admitted another charge of injuring with intent to injure. That charge related to him giving Ms Moka two black eyes during an argument in January 2013.
Her mother Isobel Moka told the court yesterday she wanted to be at the cemetery so she could be close to her slain daughter.
She wore a T-shirt with the words "In Loving Memory of Barbara Moka" and in her victim impact statement said she would never forgive Korewha for taking one of her precious babies.
Isobel Moka said she could not stand around abusive men, was no longer sociable, lost motivation in life and had nightmares of what her daughter's last moments may have been. Ms Moka's oldest sister said her family had become closer throughout the ordeal.
"I want the offender to think about his children growing up without their mother," she said.
Justice Brendan Brown acknowledged the courage and dignity of Ms Moka's family who read their victim impact statements in court.
Crown solicitor Mike Smith said no sentence could heal the wound suffered by Ms Moka's family. Korewha displayed a particular course of conduct in the weeks and months leading up to her murder, he said, and his conduct when he inflicted the fatal blows on Ms Moka was not a "heat-of-the-moment" situation.
Defence lawyer Catherine Cull said Korewha knew he faced a lengthy term of prison irrespective of whether he was convicted of murder or manslaughter.
Justice Brown said he found it difficult to accept Korewha's argument he did not know Ms Moka was severely hurt after she was assaulted in the paddock.
He said the suffering of Ms Moka's family was exacerbated by Korewha's behaviour in terms of him asking family and friends her whereabouts after he had killed her. The murder involved a high level of brutality because Korewha intimidated her, then followed her when she tried to escape from him, Justice Brown said.
Ms Moka's family packed the public gallery and were heard saying "good job" and gave a thumbs up after the judge announced the end sentence.
Korewha was ordered to serve a concurrent term of two years and two months on the charge of injuring with intent to injure.