A man has denied rape and indecent assault in a case where the offending is alleged to have occurred up to 46 years ago.

The man, whose name is suppressed, pleaded not guilty in the High Court at Rotorua yesterday to three counts of indecent assault on a girl aged under 12 and three counts of rape. All except one rape count are representative, which means he is alleged to have offended a number of times.

In her opening statement, Rotorua Crown prosecutor Amanda Gordon said that between February 1966 and December 1971 the man, then in his 20s, indecently assaulted the complainant, who was then of primary school age.

Ms Gordon said that when the complainant was at intermediate school in the early 1970s, the accused progressed to raping her.

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That occurred regularly until August 1976, apart from a six-month period when she lived outside of Rotorua.

Ms Gordon told the court the complainant had tried to seek help more than once and felt isolated and vulnerable when she was not believed. She said that by the age of 16 the complainant's life was "out of control", including drinking heavily as a "way for her to try and forget about the things that were happening to her".

Ms Gordon said the final count of rape related to a one-off assault in 1991 or 1992, when the accused went to the home of the complainant, then aged in her 30s.

In his opening statement, defence counsel Jonothan Briscoe said the accused denied all the charges and for an "unknown" reason the complainant was lying.

"People can lie for all sorts of reasons - some may come out during the trial," said Mr Briscoe.

He said the complainant first went to the police in August 2007 but it was June 2010 before they spoke to the accused.

The trial is expected to take about four days.