The trial of a man charged with the murder of Christchurch prostitute Ngatai 'Mellory' Manning starts today.

Mauha Huataki Fawcett, 26, has been charged with Miss Manning's kidnap and murder on December 18, 2008.

Her badly beaten body was found in the Avon River the next day, and the brutality of her death shocked police investigating the case.

The trial at the High Court in Christchurch is set down for six weeks, with around 100 witnesses likely to be called to give evidence.


Fawcett is expected to defend himself.

The trial was delayed last year after he sacked his defence counsel Craig Ruane and told the court he wanted to conduct his own defence.

Mr Ruane has been appointed amicus curiae, or friend of the court, to advance legal arguments on Fawcett's behalf during the trial.

A second murder trial, also at the High Court in Christchurch, gets underway tomorrow. Lucille Scollay, 44, will stand trial for the alleged murder of her husband Guy Scollay, 48, at the pair's Christchurch home on February 10 last year.

The trial was also scheduled to start today, but given that it clashed with the anniversary of Mr Scollay's death, it was delayed for 24 hours.